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VERIFY: Is FEMA giving assistance to Ohioans following East Palestine train derailment?

The DeWine administration says it has been in daily contact with FEMA to discuss the need for federal support in East Palestine.

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — Will the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) be giving assistance to Ohioans in the aftermath of the East Palestine train derailment?

We've noticed multiple reports across social media -- so let's VERIFY!


  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
  • U.S. Sen. JD Vance (R-OH)
  • FEMA's Budget-in-Brief handbook

Let's start with the governor. On Thursday morning, DeWine's office put out a statement that his administration has been in touch with FEMA to talk about the possibility of the state receiving federal support:

"Ohio Governor Mike DeWine spoke with officials at the White House early this morning to address the need for federal help. As a result of this conversation, the Governor has requested assistance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health and Emergency Response Team, and the CDC to provide on-the-ground assistance in East Palestine.

"The DeWine Administration has been in daily contact with FEMA to discuss the need for federal support, however FEMA continues to tell Governor DeWine that Ohio is not eligible for assistance at this time. Governor DeWine will continue working with FEMA to determine what assistance can be provided."

We did a deep dive into FEMA's website and found this paragraph about the agency's policy on disaster response:

"Through the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), FEMA provides individual and public assistance to state and local governments in order to help families and communities affected by declared disasters to rebuild and recover. FEMA also administers hazard mitigation programs that reduce the risk to life and property from floods and other hazards. FEMA stands ready to provide rapid assistance and resources in emergency situations whenever State and local capabilities are overwhelmed or seriously threatened."

Vance visited East Palestine on Thursday. He says the mix-up in calling the federal government for assistance stems from controversy with officials on who or where to shift the blame for the Norfolk Southern derailment.

"There's some tension between declaring a federal disaster and having FEMA come in, then shifting the liability of this accident to the federal government, as opposed to the train company that actually caused the problem," Vance told reporters. 

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."


So will Ohioans receive assistance from FEMA for the East Palestine train derailment?

We can now verify — YES

In addition to requesting federal aid from FEMA, DeWine also asked the White House for help from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NBC News reports the White House is sending teams from both agencies to take a look at health concerns in East Palestine.

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