Butler County Incident Management Team provides update on East Palestine train derailment

Butler County Incident Management Team provides update on East Palestine train derailment
Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 6:44 PM EST
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EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WXIX) - Evacuation orders were lifted Thursday after a freight train derailment created a hazardous situation in East Palestine, but there is still much more to do.

Director of the Butler County Incident Management Team Matt Haverkos says that there is “about a quarter mile with cars on their side” and multiple fires “ripping right through the heart of the community.”

Haverkos was one of the 10 members of the Butler County team that responded within hours to the train derailment in East Palestine on Saturday.

About 50 cars derailed and 10 of those cars were holding hazardous materials, the director said. He described it as “alarming” and “terrifying” for the community members.

“To get woken up to a wireless emergency alert - that’s what goes off on your cell phone that says ‘hey this is an eminent danger you must evacuate’ you know - then to have folks from local law enforcement all the way up to the national guard coming door to door, bull horns, knocking on doors,” Haverkos said. “It was organized chaos for a degree, you know? And so obviously it changes minute by minute, hour by hour throughout the scenario.”

Residents near the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line were asked to evacuate immediately for the safety of their life. Black smoke consumed the sky as freight cars with burned edges sporadically lay along the tracks.

While the potential for explosion has subsided, Haverkos says there is still a long road ahead.

“The water monitoring and the environmental aspect is something that’s going to be long term. It’s going to take months if not years for the final clean-up of this effort,” he said.

The community is no longer in an emergency state.

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