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Hey, Remember That Ohio Train Crash?

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

The media is eager to avoid stories that make the Biden administration look bad. Some, understandably, need to focus a little more attention since a total blackout would be too outrageous to defend. The Nashville Shooting, where a transgender mass killer murdered six people, including three children, at a private Christian school, The Covenant, has already been smothered with a pillow. CBS News reportedly barred their writers from even mentioning the shooter, Audrey Hale, being transgender. Before that, an evolving environmental disaster unfolded in East Palestine, Ohio, where toxic chemicals spilled everywhere following a train derailment in February. This disaster took the Biden White House days to recognize, with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg finally visiting three weeks later. Biden refused to release federal resources for an extended period, though he finally relented. The safety of the drinking water is still in doubt. So, if you're wondering what the hell is going on in East Palestine, Ohio, it's still not good. 

Given the slew of crises the Biden administration refuses to solve, or worse can't, due to systemic incompetence, the media has moved away from these beleaguered people in the town and surrounding area. It's red state America, the country—who cares about them, is how the urbanized Democratic Party base reacted. East Palestine voted 70 percent for Trump in 2020, so Biden, who also hasn't visited the town, saw this as political revenge. 

Biden probably won't go since there's nothing to gain, which is irrelevant because he's the president. Even Trump went into areas where he wasn't liked. When activists like Erin Brockovich weighed in about the drinking water standard, which flipped on a dime, it only added to the ongoing chaos. Brockovich was right: these test results don't switch on a dime. She torched the Biden White House response, saying that the information from the government can't be trusted if it appears that it's cooking the books out of political expediency. The people of East Palestine were on their own. 

There have been town hall events where representatives of the company whose train derailed, Norfolk Southern, have justifiably been the punching bags for residents. Many people want out, but don't have the resources—and Norfolk isn't going to buy each of their homes which would facilitate such a move. We also have health concerns, with many rail workers falling ill around the crash site as there wasn't enough protective gear, including gloves, for the response teams. Locals have also experienced alleged side effects from the chemical fallout, and there are heaps of dead fish and livestock from the surrounding area. 

The recent development is that Norfolk Southern promised to pay the residents to live elsewhere as cleanup operations ramp up, though this could be years until completed. The latest hiccup is that these payments are moving slowly, hampered by bureaucracy (via NBC News): 

As residents of East Palestine, Ohio, try to take rail company Norfolk Southern up on its offers to reimburse their evacuation and relocation costs after its train derailed last month, nearly a dozen said they have found the process confusing and burdensome. Several said they have expenses that the company declined to pay. 

In the wake of the disaster on Feb. 3 — when a train carrying hazardous chemicals jumped the tracks, causing some of its toxic cargo to spill and burn — Norfolk Southern has offered residents a growing list of reimbursement options for the costs of their evacuations and other inconveniences. All 11 residents interviewed for this article have received sums from the company but are nonetheless frustrated by what they see as an onerous and opaque system that left them pleading with representatives to get money they believed they were owed. 

They said the process — which followed the turmoil of fleeing their homes, watching their property values crash and, in some cases, dealing with health issues like rashes and coughs — further deepened mistrust of Norfolk Southern. 

“They act like we are beggars or we’re just trying to get free stuff,” Zsuzsa Gyenes, who went to high school in East Palestine and moved back last summer, said of the Norfolk Southern representatives she met with. “They were trying to crack jokes about what people were trying to get reimbursed for. It was just very dehumanizing.” 

After the disaster, Norfolk Southern first offered to reimburse residents who were required to evacuate for five days or did so voluntarily for necessities like hotel stays, food, gas, toiletries or clothing. After that, the company added a $1,000 inconvenience check for every person within a mile of the derailment site, then subsequently expanded it to anyone with an East Palestine ZIP code. 

Then, nearly four weeks ago, Norfolk Southern began offering additional relocation reimbursements to cover food, gas and lodging for people whose homes are in a broader area that requires ongoing remediation efforts, such as soil cleanup, as determined by a team of government agencies and the company. 

Yet, Biden can't be bothered to visit his constituents. He's too busy giving billions to Ukraine and not shooting down Chinese spy balloons collecting intelligence on sensitive military installations. 

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