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Biden visits East Palestine one year after train derailment

President Biden visited East Palestine for the first time on Friday, one year after the train derailment occurred, promising to work with residents and officials through the long-term recovery process.

The visit was scheduled after an invitation from East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway. Officials briefed Biden on the current conditions of the city when he arrived before he gave remarks to the public. 

Biden made several announcements, including that he would award six National Institute of Health Grants to top American research universities for the future study of the long and short-term health effects caused by the incident. 

“Let me be clear that while there are acts of God, this was an act of greed,” Biden said during his public remarks.

The city was praised for its resiliency during the past year by Biden, while he compared the strength he sees in East Palestine with that of the entire country. 

“We leave no one behind and we come stronger than before,” Biden said during his public remarks. “That’s what you’re doing here. That’s what’s happening right here in this community.” 

As Friday marked the first time Biden visited East Palestine, many residents felt the help is either long overdue or far too late.

“What if it was his hometown?” said Brandon Hacker, a resident of East Palestine. “I feel like it was very delayed and it should’ve been addressed immediately, instead of a year later.” 

Hacker has lived in East Palestine his entire life and has never seen anything like the smoke and chemicals he saw in the sky before, which is what he said makes the derailment feel surreal. 

“Sometimes I feel like it didn’t even hit me yet,” Hacker said. “I have mixed emotions about it.” 

A group of protestors gather during President Biden’s announcements. (Kayla Gleason)

Jon Fish, an East Palestine resident who participated in the protests against Biden’s visit, was among those residents claiming they are upset more help was not given sooner. 

“He was about a year late,” Fish said. “Do I think it’ll help anything? There will probably be federal funding that will come as a result of it, so that’s good, but that’s all.” 

Fish said he knew other residents who have since moved out due to the contamination the derailment brought, but he said he is still conflicted about leaving his hometown. 

“I truck in all my water,” Fish said. “I don’t even use water to shower from this town. I know it’s contaminated, so I don’t use the water, but I love this town. I don’t know if I foresee myself moving out of it in the foreseeable future.” 

Two opposing protests clashed during the day’s events, with one side in opposition to Biden, with some also in support of Trump, and the other side was raising awareness of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. 

The disagreement was heard as they stood facing each other across a street, chants such as “Free Palestine” sometimes overshadowed the other side’s phrases against Biden. 

Several out-of-town people visited East Palestine on Friday because of their interest in the hazardous event and its effect on residents. 

Katie O’Neill, a candidate for the Ohio State Senate in District 18, drove down because the train derailment is what inspired her to run for office. As an environmental lawyer, O’Neill said she was shocked by the mismanagement of the situation. 

“I’m really grateful for the people of East Palestine that have had the courage to show their pain and to ask for help and to be united in this effort because this is a nightmare,” O’Neill said. 

O’Neill said she was happy to see Biden make the trip, no matter the amount of time it took in between that and the derailment. 

“I’m really grateful that President Biden is coming to East Palestine today because we asked him to come here for a year, and he has made good on that promise to care about us, to help us,” O’Neill said. “We need that kind of support from the office of presidency in the United States.”

Kayla Gleason is a beat reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

Alexandria Manthey is a TV2 Reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Kayla Gleason, Reporter
Kayla is a sophomore journalism major. She enjoys writing about the current events happening around campus.
Contact her at [email protected]

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