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Ohio train derailment update: Gov. Mike DeWine announces FEMA to send team to East Palestine

The workers will "support ongoing operations, including incident coordination and ongoing assessments of potential long-term recovery needs."

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — UPDATE: On Friday evening, DeWine confirmed that FEMA will, in fact, be sending a crew to assist with the aftermath of the train derailment in the village. 

In a joint statement released Friday night, DeWine and FEMA Regional Administrator Thomas C. Sivak said the agency would deploy a Regional Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to Columbiana County starting Saturday, along with a senior response official. The workers will "support ongoing operations, including incident coordination and ongoing assessments of potential long-term recovery needs."

PREVIOUS: After announcing Thursday he had requested federal help in connection with the East Palestine train derailment, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also revealed that FEMA had said the state did not qualify for their assistance.

“At this point, based on what FEMA has told us – and continues to tell us – my chief of staff talked to them again this morning, we do not qualify for assistance," Gov. DeWine reiterated during a Friday press conference.

"Although FEMA is synonymous with disaster support, they’re most typically involved with disasters where there is tremendous home or property damage," Gov. DeWine continued.

This would include situations like tornadoes, flooding or hurricanes, Gov. DeWine explained.

"That is why we do not expect that FEMA will come to East Palestine."

But Gov. DeWine also said this doesn't mean FEMA is completely out of the situation.

"To make sure that if in the future FEMA is ever needed, we want to preserve our rights to be able to ask them for help. … We’re going to preemptively file a document with FEMA to preserve our rights in case we need their assistance in the future. We believe that the railroad should continue to pay. We’re going to insist that they pay. Whatever damages have been caused, the railroad is responsible for those damages. We’re filing this paper with FEMA just in case in the future we need that. Let’s say, for example, the railroad stops paying for whatever reason. We’re still going to go after the railroad, but we want to make sure that there will be support for people if that support does in fact stop from the railroad.”

During the Friday press conference, Gov. DeWine also declared that testing showed water in the Ohio River is safe. He also announced plans for a clinic that's being established early next week in East Palestine.

The train derailment happened back on Feb.3. Days later, officials conducted a controlled release of chemicals amid explosion concerns at the site.

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