After the Biden administration denied FEMA support for East Palestine and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg downplayed the toxic train derailment on the national stage, one mother who evacuated her family called the White House out for ignoring a health and humanitarian crisis.
“I just can’t help but think I feel like they’re kind of trying to brush this under the rug,” mom of four Chelsea Simpson said on “Mornings with Maria” Friday. “So since FEMA doesn’t come in, it’s like not holding Norfolk accountable for what they’ve done to our little town.”
While the Biden administration turned down a request for federal disaster assistance from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in the aftermath of the train derailment, Sec. Buttigieg seemed to minimize the disaster in an appearance with Yahoo! Finance on Thursday.
“There’s clearly more that needs to be done,” Buttigieg said, “because while this horrible situation has gotten particularly high amount of attention, there are roughly 1,000 cases a year of a train derailing.”
OHIO RESIDENT SHARES TERRIFYING EXPERIENCE WITH TOXIC DERAILMENT: ‘THROWN INTO TRAGEDY’
“This is a massive chemical spill, but we don’t qualify for the help,” Simpson reacted. “Is that so you don’t bring more attention on our town and let anyone know how big of a deal this really is?”
Simpson’s family lives just one mile from the derailment site and still remains displaced from their home. She claimed they’re making decisions “day by day,” trying to figure out their “next move.”
“The kids aren’t taking it so well. They’re asking every day, ‘When can I go home? Why can’t I go home?’ They don’t understand what’s going on, so that’s tough,” Simpson said. “It’s definitely taken a mental anguish on everyone.”
During the handful of trips the mother has made back home to retrieve personal items, she reported feelings symptoms while in the contaminated space.
“Just in those few trips, I’ve had symptoms like a rash, sore throat, headaches, all the above. So I don’t really feel comfortable taking my kids back in that environment at this time,” Simpson said.
Two days after the Feb. 3 derailment, Simpson claimed her eight-month-old infant started experiencing symptoms as well.
“He had a lot of respiratory issues and was wheezing very badly, so we had went to the urgent care. That’s when I had symptoms of the sore throat, lots of congestion,” she recalled.
Despite state officials reporting that water and air contamination levels have returned to normal and are “safe,” Simpson still won’t trust the water and air quality for years to come.
“Even them saying the water’s fine, I don’t trust it,” the mom said. “I just feel like it’s all going to settle under the soil. We don’t know. There’s so much unknown. We don’t know what it’s going to affect in the future.”
On “Varney & Co.” Friday, radiologist Dr. Nicole Saphier argued chemical contamination could still be present in lower levels.
“As a physician, as a mother, I still have some very major concerns here,” Dr. Saphier said. “I personally believe that they allowed the resident to go back a little too soon. I think there was still a lot of tests pending, there are still water and air tests pending for certain chemicals that we don’t have the answers to.”
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Though the city has allegedly given her family guidance that it’s safe to return home with additional residence testing, Simpson admitted they don’t have any plans of returning soon.
“We don’t know what we’re going to do next,” she said. “The long-term effects of the air with our children, those chemicals could be cancer-causing agents. And in 10 years from now, I would have to live with that, knowing that one of my kids developed something I could have avoided.”
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Fox News’ Thomas Catenacci contributed to this report.