(Daily Caller News Foundation) — East Palestine residents welcomed former President Donald Trump to their town on Wednesday while criticizing President Joe Biden for his recent visit to Ukraine, as they await answers after a train derailment earlier this month caused toxic chemicals to be released into the air and water, the Daily Caller News Foundation observed.
Residents lined the street outside of The Original Roadhouse, a local restaurant, to see Trump during his eastern Ohio visit during which he donated pallets of water and cleaning supplies to help residents impacted by a controlled burn conducted more than two weeks ago to prevent an explosion from a Norfolk Southern train. The visit came as residents remain concerned about the long-term effects that could result from the derailment even after cleanup efforts, which are currently underway.
“I’m so glad he’s taken an interest in our tiny town,” Jennifer Lohr told the DCNF. “For him to come down on his own dime to help us out, to say ‘what can he do’ … even his presence here is drawing us attention and that’s all we need is attention, so we’re not forgotten.”
She said that the town is in need of “truth” and that “like him or not [Trump] is going to tell the truth.”
“We know that the water is okay right this second that’s coming out of the tap. It’s not okay in the wells. It’s not okay in the creeks. That’s what needs to be told,” Lohr said. “The air is raining down on us right now and causing nerve problems. It’s causing people with immune deficiency diseases to worsen. It’s not okay just because the vinyl chloride level might be where it’s supposed to be.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported on Tuesday that 550 homes had been screened for hazardous chemicals and that there was no detection of vinyl chloride or hydrogen chloride. EPA Administrator Michael Regan and Republican Gov. Mike DeWine drank tap water on video to prove to the residents that the water is safe.
Biden visited Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and announced the United States would send $500 million in aid to support the country’s military efforts against Russia. Michael Viccari, who was outside the restaurant to watch Trump arrive, said that Biden’s trip was not surprising.
“It wasn’t really surprising. It sounds like something he would do, so it doesn’t surprise me at all. And it doesn’t surprise me that Trump decided to come out here for us, so if he gets to hear this tell him we all appreciate it out here,” Viccari told the DCNF.
Adam Radogna, an Ohio resident, told the DCNF that it “speaks a lot of words” that Trump visited East Palestine while Biden went to Ukraine.
William Hugar, another East Palestine resident, also took issue with Biden’s Ukraine visit and questioned why the president is sending money when he hasn’t “acknowledged East Palestine.”
“The federal government, Biden, has not acknowledged East Palestine so I’m a little bit unhappy about that,” he told the DCNF. “The first week that it happened Biden was too busy popping Chinese balloons.”
Biden released a Twitter thread Tuesday evening confirming he contacted several Ohio officials and the EPA to talk about the incident and “reaffirmed [his] commitment to making sure they have everything they need.” The EPA is conducting air and water testing and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency deployed officials and resources to assist the community, according to the thread.
Biden also placed blame on the Trump administration for limiting “our ability to implement and strengthen rail safety measures.”
“Rail companies have spent millions of dollars to oppose common-sense safety regulations. And it’s worked. This is more than a train derailment or a toxic waste spill — it’s years of opposition to safety measures coming home to roost,” Biden tweeted.
— Alexa Schwerha (@alexaschwerha1) February 22, 2023
Residents have expressed concern for their health in the weeks following the controlled burn. A health clinic, which opened on Tuesday, will screen all visitors for free and “is operated by Ohio Department of Health in partnership with the Columbiana County Health Department and with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” according to a news release.
The clinic is reportedly booked through Thursday.
“We don’t want to move from here. Even if we had the opportunity we don’t want to move. This is our home, we all grew up here. Everybody that’s on this main road I pretty much know,” one resident, who told the DCNF that Trump’s visit brought “hope” to the village, said. “They’re more than friends, they’re our family … that’s the one nice thing about this town.”
The resident told the DCNF that the fallout from the derailment is “scarier than you think” and that her 5-year-old child became sick after visiting the local park.
Trump visited the local McDonald’s after meeting with residents where he answered questions shouted by reporters, many of which were aimed around Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s response to the train derailment. Buttigieg visited East Palestine Thursday, which Trump alleged was in response to his own visit.
“He should have been here a long time ago,” Trump said. “Now he was supposed to come today but he heard I was coming today and postponed it, but whenever he comes he’s got to do his job and if we didn’t come, they never would have come.”
The White House and the Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.