The EPA has failed the residents of Ohio, and now the Inspector General is launching an investigation into how badly the agency screwed up the testing in the city that they now swear is totally safe. But the residents know better, and Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins got the chance to speak with Status Coup reporter Louis DeAngelis about what’s happening – Louis just returned from his second trip on the ground in East Palestine speaking to residents and experts that all agree the city is unsafe.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Farron Cousins: It’s nearly been two months since Norfolk Southern’s train derailed in the city of East Palestine, Ohio. And if you’re watching the news, you probably assume everything is fine, because you literally have to search for any updates on what is happening there. But luckily, we have with us once again, Louis DeAngelis, who has just completed his second trip to East Palestine. So Louis, welcome back to Ring of Fire. It’s great to have you. And I just gotta say first and foremost, thank you for being on the ground. Thank you for keeping up with this story, because again, the media’s moved on. You know, right before I sat down here, I’m going through and I’m trying to read about the latest there, and there’s just not, the Guardian had a good story. But other than that, you get local news and that’s it.

Louis DeAngelis: Yeah, there is not much going on as far as media coverage in East Palestine at this point, unfortunately. Thanks for having me back on again, Farron, and, you know, thanks to also to Status Coup for being able to enable me to be able to continue to report on the story. They’re the ones who’ve made it possible for me to be able to have both of these trips to get out there and continue to tell the stories of what are happening to folks in this town. And I can tell you things are not okay still in East Palestine. We are over 50 days later. It’s a couple days past that at this point. Residents unfortunately, are still getting actually sick from smells in the air still at this point, which sounds unbelievable unless you’re there yourself to see it.

It’s something hard to show on camera. But folks unfortunately are still having all sorts of symptoms raising, ranging from nose bleeds still. They’re having eye irritation, sore throats, folks still getting diagnosed with bronchitis caused by chemical exposure, breathing problems, bad headaches, tightness in your kind of neck and chest. And I can actually tell you firsthand, unfortunately, on the second trip, the beginning of the week, I’ll say, things seemed to be improving. The weather was cold, it was fairly snowy. It was windy and I actually wasn’t noticing as much of the smells and things that I had noticed on my first trip. But low and behold, as the week went on, the temperatures warmed up and the weather got better and the smells were very prevalent in town, to the point that later on in my second trip to East Palestine, the smells actually got so bad during a couple interviews that I was doing.

I started getting a bad headache and I put a respirator on for the remainder of my day in town. And the remainder of that trip, I essentially wore a respirator the majority of my time there, with the exception of doing interviews because the headache that it causes is terrible. You can smell it, it doesn’t feel good. And when you’re, when you’re breathing it, and you know, I’m going and I’m, you know, exposing myself to it for smaller periods of time. Some of these folks don’t have a choice. They work right in town. They’ve had trouble relocating. So things are still not right in East Palestine even today.

Farron Cousins: And so when we think about this happening here, the smell, it’s not just, oh, it’s the odor due to the irritants, that’s a pretty good sign that the particles are still floating around. And so that’s what folks need to really, you know, comprehend here. This hasn’t blown away. It’s not getting just taken away in the weather. The particles are still there, and we are seeing illnesses. We are seeing people, you know, still searching for medical care and of course still trying to get their own homes cleaned up from this horrifying mess that has happened here. So, you know, what else are you seeing with these residents?

Louis DeAngelis: Right. And I’ll say too, so the reason that I think a lot of these symptoms are still happening and that we’re still smelling it is a couple of the things that are actually being done in town right now. So, while I was there about a week and a half ago at this point, and then, you know, it’s still continuing today, right now, Norfolk Southern is currently digging up the contaminated soil that initially they just buried underneath the tracks to get the railroad back open again. So for folks who don’t remember this, you know, after the February 3rd derailment, they had the controlled burn three days later, and then less than three days after that, basically, they had to get the railroad moving again. So they told everyone in town that it’s safe to go back. Folks started to move back in, and very quickly they just kind of buried whatever remaining contaminated soil that was there underneath the tracks with God knows what in them to get the railroad back open again as soon as possible.

So that happens only because of the outcry of folks in town saying, hey, this doesn’t seem okay that we just buried all of this right here. You probably should have cleaned it up the right way the first time before you told us all to come back and that everything was fine. They have now started digging up the soil underneath the tracks. Convenient for Norfolk Southern. Maybe they knew this already. They have two lines of tracks that run through East Palestine, so they’re doing one at a time. So one track is still open, very busy with rail traffic going in both directions while they’re, you know, cleaning the soil from underneath one side. When they’re done with the one side, they’ll move on to the other. So that’s one reason I think we’re still seeing folks experiencing some of these smells. Some of these irritations.

These are giant piles of dirt. They’re covered while they’re there, but there’s lots of loading and unloading into different vehicles going in and out of town at all the hours of the day and night. So that’s one issue. The other issue still happening is the creeks are still contaminated. The two creeks mainly in question here. The first, Sulphur Run, which is basically starts right next to ground zero, right where this derailment happened. That creek is heavily contaminated. I’ve done interviews with residents who this creek runs through their backyard. In some cases, this creek actually runs underneath some homes and businesses in town as it goes through downtown, through a tunnel. So the smells from from that creek are very prevalent. The creek is still visibly contaminated. And then that flows into Leslie Run, which is also still heavily contaminated.

And in these creeks, while they’re trying to clean this, they’re actually spraying the water up into the air out of these, like they’re calling them aerators, essentially. They have a series of small dams built, temporary dams built. They suck the water into these aerators through pumps on one side, and then spray the water in the air out on the other. And when that happens, you’ve got the chemicals separating out in the air from the water, and you’re just recontaminating the air in these places. And it’s happening in a lot of cases, very close to where people live.

Farron Cousins: It still blows my mind that this is how we have to deal with something like this, because we don’t, we don’t have proper technology. We don’t have, you know, very efficient ways to remove these kinds of toxins from the water, from the air, from the soil. So we’re just like, okay, well, we’ll dig it up and just take the dirt somewhere else, and the dirt has to go somewhere else. We can’t just make it disappear.

Louis DeAngelis: Right.

Farron Cousins: Same thing with the water. And so it’s truly terrifying to think, especially because we’ve had multiple, you know, high profile trained derailments since East Palestine. I mean, we had one while the CEO was testifying in the Senate. He’s talking to them, no, everything’s great. Everything’s grand. Another one of their trains goes off the tracks. So, obviously this is a problem and a problem compounding it is that we don’t really have a way to do anything about it. You know, I live right here along the Gulf Coast, and we were subjected to the BP oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon. And back then it blew my mind, like, there’s just, there’s nothing we can do. We can put up some booms and hope the oil doesn’t escape it. We couldn’t figure out how to close this, you know, spewing well head at the bottom of the Gulf for weeks and weeks. We are so at the mercy of all of these corporations, because if something goes wrong, there’s nothing we can do with these contaminants.

Louis DeAngelis: No, absolutely, and unfortunately we’re at the mercy of these corporations, and a lot of cases when the decision making of what to do in these emergencies initially happened, begin. Right now we’re getting, you know, you mentioned the Senate hearings. There’s been hearings in the US Senate and the House of Representatives. But also a couple have happened in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Pennsylvania Senate. And I actually think that the Pennsylvania ones were some of the most valuable ones that I’ve watched here. At the Pennsylvania Senate hearing, you won’t hear me complimenting Doug Mastriano very often, but I’m about to do it here, so brace yourself. But Alan Shaw was being questioned by Doug Mastriano, as well as Doug Mastriano’s Democratic counterpart Katie Muth. And they did a fantastic job questioning Alan Shaw, who at the time was trying to blame the decision for the vent and burn of the vinyl chloride cars that were set on fire solely on the fire chief of East Palestine.

This is a fire chief of, for a small town of 4,500 people. The vast majority of the firefighters in the town are volunteers. The fact that the CEO of Norfolk Southern is trying to blame this decision for why the heck did you set, you know, five rail cars filled with dangerous chemicals inside of them on fire trying to place the blame on a small town fire chief is the lowest of the low. We actually, you know, I’ve been trying to piece together a lot of this because there is a lot of questions involved with, initially the decision to do the vent and burn. It looked like they were gonna be doing this with one car of vinyl chloride and then all of a sudden the next day the decision was changed and it was like, actually, you know what? We’re recommending we do this with five of these cars. You know, setting one of these cars on fire is gonna be an issue regardless. Setting five of them is going to be a much, much, much bigger problem to happen here. And we actually, last night, there was a town hall in East Palestine that I tuned into and a member of the EPA said that they had offered input on the decision of the, the controlled burn.

But that that decision was not made by them. So a big question that I have is, who was the one, you know, pushing this fire chief? Because the fire chief ultimately did have the last say. He was the incident commander of the scene because it was in his town. But there was very likely a room full of Norfolk Southern officials and many others who know what they’re, or are supposed to know what they’re doing here, placing a lot of pressure on this small town fire chief, who I’m sure is trying to make the best decision he can with what he’s got. And this isn’t a knock on him. But he is not gonna have the same kind of training in these sort of chemicals that a lot of these corporations and others do. To me it seems like that was the decision made because that might be the quickest to get the tracks back open again, the quickest to get rid of this mess. But I mean, clearly they’ve caused a much bigger mess in the process.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. It does seem like, obviously if you have this small town fire chief sitting there, you’ve got your executives from Norfolk Southern, they’re feeding him all of this info, and he can only work with what they give him. And, you know, anybody who spent any time investigating corporations, looking at corporate documents, the one thing corporations pretty much do across the board is hide dangers of what they have. So, you know, it would not surprise me. Obviously I wasn’t there, so I don’t know. But we will eventually know.

Louis DeAngelis: Hopefully.

Farron Cousins: I mean, all of this will come out at some point. So we’ll know what they told this fire chief, we’ll know what they withheld, if they withheld anything. And again, we can only assume based on past corporate behavior, I think it’s pretty safe to assume information was withheld about how dangerous this could be to the residents. So yeah, I think it’s definitely a cop out for these folks to try to put the blame on this individual. But again, they’re trying to shift the liability. Totally not our fault. Blame this guy who everybody in the town probably knows. It’s sick because they know they did this, you know, it doesn’t matter who called for the burn, this is your problem and you’re already trying to pawn it off onto somebody else.

Louis DeAngelis: Right. And I’m gonna steal a line that I actually heard at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives hearing that happened in Darlington Township, which is, if this train derailment happened 600 feet further down the tracks, essentially we’d be talking about Darlington, Pennsylvania, not East Palestine, Ohio. You’ve probably never even heard the name Darlington, because no one in the media talks about it, but these folks are very much being affected by this. But the thing that one of the representatives there said was, derailment is part of the business model. And that really hit home for me because I had heard a story the day before from a small business owner in East Palestine who lives right on East Clark Street, which is the tracks basically are in her front yard. Her name’s Lonnie. She runs a small business in East Palestine, and she was saying in the days after she was staying in a hotel at one point.

And she saw a rail worker in there who was assigned to the area cleaning up some of the derailment. And she went up to him and was like, oh my gosh, thank you so much for coming and cleaning this up. And at the time, no one knew how big of a deal this was and how much of an ordeal had happened here. And the rail worker just looked at her and said, like, you know, this is just my job. You shouldn’t be thanking me. Like, it’s your mess today. It’s gonna be a mess in another town tomorrow. This gentleman’s job was just to go clean up derailments, basically. So again, derailment is part of the business model. It’s built into the, you know, how much money are we gonna make? Can we load these trains up with more things? Derailment is part of the business model. Right now there’s no incentive for these companies to change that model, unless our government steps in and actually does something about it.

Farron Cousins: And we have to remind people too, you know, the statistics we’re averaging what, two to three derailments in the United States per day? We’re using breaking systems on trains that are basically Civil War era breaking systems. We have not had inno, we’ve had innovations. They’re just not mandated at this point. And we’re also, this is something interesting I looked up not long ago. The actual railroad tracks themselves, most of them in the country are 60 years old or more. Because when you think about it, I mean, everybody sees rail tracks, you know, in their cities, you know, or driving, traveling. You never stop to think, wait a minute, how have I see road construction all the time. How have I never seen anybody, I hate to use this term, but working on the railroad?

Louis DeAngelis: Right.

Farron Cousins: And it’s because folks, these rail lines were basically created back during the time when we still had segregation, and they have not been updated. They are not properly maintained in any kind of meaningful way, unless of course, you do have the ones that are usually passenger lines. Those get worked on, those get updated. But the ones carrying the chemicals that are gonna give you cancer, that could, you know, destroy your town, we’re talking about rail systems that have not been maintenance in decades at this point.

Louis DeAngelis: Right. And unfortunately, and this is something that a lot of East Palestine residents are trying to get the message out, because right now they’re fighting tooth and nail. They are still struggling to get relocated in a lot of cases. They’re only getting help if they’re yelling and screaming about it, essentially. So they’re trying to get the message out that, hey, this happened in our small town this time. But as you said, these rail tracks are spread out in small towns and big towns and cities across the United States, it’s very difficult to find out what’s being carried on a lot of these trains for regular folks like you or I. But this could happen in your town, in your city next. So that’s a big message that a lot of folks are trying to get out there that like, hey, this is affecting us directly right now.

They don’t want this to have to happen to other people, you know, it’s already happened to them. The unfortunate reality that they’re living with is they’re very likely gonna get long-term health effects from all of this sort of stuff. A lot of the chemicals on board were carcinogens. A lot of the byproducts of chemicals on board, when they’re set on fire are also carcinogens. These people have very much been exposed to what’s happened here. They want to prevent this from happening in other places, and they want to try to get back to some sense of normalcy in their lives. Unfortunately, in the short term, it’s not looking good for that, for them. And, you know, just objectively looking at it, I’m not seeing the appropriate amount of care and help coming from our federal government, coming from the state of Ohio to come and help these folks. So, you know, at this point we can all try to get out there and folks need to be looking into what can be done to prevent things like this from happening again.

Farron Cousins: You know, I did read, as I mentioned, the Guardian actually had a fairly decent story about what’s happening, and they talked about the fact that now you have the EPA Inspector General with the federal government investigating the EPA’s response to what happened. So, we’re already at the point where the EPA Inspector General is saying, wait, wait, wait, something’s not right. I’m not pleased with this. I do not think what happened was, you know, correct. So we have to find out now how the EPA screwed this up. They don’t just launch these investigations to say, oh, look how great we are. The Inspector General’s doing this, because they already know somebody up here screwed up. And I think that’s a very big deal. And it’s one, again, I’ve, I saw two stories on it, one from the Guardian one not. Where’s the coverage? Why is nobody talking about this? This is a big deal and it’s just radio silence.

Louis DeAngelis: Right. And I’ll say too, I mean, and I’m very curious to see what the results of some of these investigations are, to your point. But when you’ve got, you know, the few experts who are independent showing up, trying to help, there’s a gentleman, Dr. Andrew Whelton, who works for Purdue University. He’s been going and doing a lot of independent testing in East Palestine. He’s been working directly with many East Palestine residents. And he’s trying to, you know, sound the alarms essentially that, hey, there’s something still not right. These people are actually still getting sick from all of this. These creeks are still very contaminated. He’s doing tests and, on the water, on the air, finding, you know, concerning levels of volatile organic compounds when he is testing near the creeks with devices to test the air.

He’s trying to sound the alarm here and saying like, hey, you know, some of these things that the town is looking forward to planning. One small example, the town’s looking to have an Easter egg hunt in their city park in about a week and a half for Easter. Um, seems really dangerous to me when you don’t have published soil sample results from that park. When you’ve got the city council looking to absolutely clean and sanitize the playgrounds and all this sort of stuff, remove all of the mulch, replace it with new mulch. At the entrance to the park, they’re aerating these polluted creeks like I talked about before. And this researcher, Dr. Whelton, is sounding the alarm saying, hey, like, you shouldn’t be looking to have Easter egg hunts. You shouldn’t be, you know, maybe even staying in many of these homes until we’re getting these appropriate tests done.

Trying to sound the alarm that like, hey, something is still not right. I don’t, you know, he’s not even necessarily coming out and seeing exactly what it is. But when you see not just journalists like me who are trying to learn about all of these things as I go, you know, I was not an expert in all of these chemicals before and I wouldn’t say I’m an expert now, but I, you know, I know my way around them. I can have the conversations. But when I start to see experts, you know, from big universities coming out and saying, hey, something’s not right, that starts to make me feel even a little bit more uneasy. And residents are very distrustful of a lot of the information they’ve been given so far because they see it themselves. They don’t need an air monitor to tell them that they’re getting sick when they breathe this stuff that doesn’t smell good. Like, you just know. You can tell with your body that things are not right.

Farron Cousins: And so last time we had talked, Norfolk Southern had pretty much kind of stopped with their indoor air quality testing. They weren’t covering the things that they should. Has any of that changed? Because obviously in the community, you’ve got this big backlash. The EPA has done, I guess something. But is there any difference now? Has Norfolk Southern been forced to continue doing testing or is that over?

Louis DeAngelis: So, residential air testing has been done to a degree, and I’ve done a lot of digging into this. So when residential air testing happens now, it’s happening with two parties present. So you’ve got CTEH, which is a company hired by big corporations when they have a big mess. Deepwater Horizon was one of the instances where CTEH was hired. East Palestine is another. They’ve got a rocky track record to say the least, of essentially testing for things that they know they’re not gonna find to make things look like everything safe and fine. So CTEH is present. And then you also have the EPA, it’ll either be a member of the EPA or one of their contractors, a company called Tetra Tech, which also has its own rocky history.

So they come in and oftentimes they’re using what is, shorthand called a PID. It’s essentially a little, a handheld device and they can sample for, you know, volatile organic compounds is mostly what they’re sampling for. So I’ve talked with several, you know, folks on and off the record, many of them chemists, toxicologists. They’re telling me that if you’re doing a broad test for VOCs, you’re not gonna get accurate results for some of the specific chemicals that would’ve been on board that train and or the chemical byproducts of things that are on on board that train. So, vinyl chloride’s the big one. In a lot of cases, you’re not gonna find vinyl chloride in these people’s houses. When it was set on fire, I mean, it doesn’t stay vinyl chloride once it’s set on fire, it turns into mainly three big things.

So you’ve got phosgene, you’ve got formaldehyde, you’ve got hydrogen chloride. There are other things it can create as well, including dioxins, which had, you’ve probably heard that conversation at some point before. But these other three are three other chemicals that can be tested for. When you’re doing these residential air tests and you’re using just the broad test for VOCs, you’re very likely, or you’re not gonna find phosgene with that device at all. Formaldehyde you can only find with that device if you have a special attachment on it. And if you have that attachment on it, you can’t also be testing for volatile organic compounds. So those are just a couple examples. So you’re not finding it there. And a lot of these experts are also saying that you need to be doing, rather than an air test in the home, you need to be wiping surfaces.

And then running a more detailed test in a lab afterwards of what is on the surfaces. Because often, you know, I walked in a lot of these people’s houses last week. You can still smell it. Your eyes still do burn after spending 10 minutes inside. That’s not normal. These devices, they’re going in, they’re doing a test, and they’re saying, hey, you know, yep, look, everything’s fine. We’re handing you a piece of paper right now with these results. And, you know, again, folks aren’t trusting it because when they went in their house before, their eyes weren’t watering after being home for 10 minutes, and now it is. That’s a problem. One other thing I’ll mention on this is I spoke quite a bit with a resident, her name’s Krissy Ferguson and we did an extensive interview with her, two interviews with her.

And she actually is claiming that the, that CTEH actually falsified her results. That she was walking into her home, or, you know, was in her home with the testing being done with the EPA there and CTEH. The device that the CTEH person was holding started making a beeping noise. Krissy herself looked at it and saw the number two on the device, I think it was very likely a 0.2. And it triggered the CTEH person and the EPA person to have to talk for a second. They both went off and called their supervisors about what they should do. And then when Krissy got her results back, she just saw a 0.1 parts per million, which is what is on every single person’s results, basically in the entire town.

I have every reason to believe Krissy. I’ve got other folks who off the record, have said similar things. I’m looking to talk with more folks who this may have happened to. But that’s a huge red flag, when folks are, you know, she went through and recounted every single step of what happened in that test. We’ve got the video on Status Coup if folks are interested in checking out that full thing. But again, these companies have a history, unfortunately, of doing things exactly like that. So I’ve got every reason to believe Krissy, and especially when you look at the track records of some of these companies, including CTEH, it doesn’t necessarily surprise me.

Farron Cousins: And it may be a little after the fact to mention this, however, you know, put it in your pocket for the future. If you ever have anybody coming into your home doing tests, following any kind of chemical incident, or really just doing any test at all, pull out your phone and film it. Get that phone, get it on record. Do not give them the opportunity to see something, hide it and write something else down. Because otherwise, you know, when these lawsuits start, and I know the state of Ohio has already filed one, they did that about two weeks ago, but when the lawsuits come, you’re gonna need evidence like that. Otherwise, it’s gonna be your word against the so-called expert and the courts are gonna go with the expert, you know, alleged expert every time. So get it documented, get it on video, and there’s no way to deny it at that point. Again, it may be a little too late, I guess, for a lot of these people to be able to do that. But if you get independent testing done, make sure that you get it, you know, very well documented so that nobody can argue with it.

Louis DeAngelis: No, absolutely. And I think in Krissy’s case too, I mean, she has been able to have an independent company come in and test. She’s gonna have those results in about another week or so. So I’ll be very curious to see how they might vary. Granted the timing is not the same as when the other one was done, but if they’re finding levels, you know, higher than what they saw two weeks ago, then we’ll clearly know what the situation is there. So, yeah. I mean, not great.

Farron Cousins: Do you know of any, are there any groups out there that are perhaps, that you know of and you may not, that are raising money to allow people to get some independent testing or anything like that?

Louis DeAngelis: Yeah, so there’s two groups that I’m aware of that I feel comfortable sharing who they are. Because obviously in a crisis like this, unfortunately, you also end up with a lot of folks who are unfortunately trying to make money on the situation, which is terrible. There’s one organization, River Valley Organizing, that has actually been putting on a lot of town halls. I’ve interviewed several folks who are working with them and volunteering for them. They’re also helping folks do independent testing of their own. If you want soil testing done, if you want, you know, water testing done, this sort of stuff, River Valley Organizing can help with that. And then United for East Palestine is another group that has worked a bit with Dr. Whelton, who I mentioned before from Purdue.

So those are two groups that I’ve seen kind of in town. I’ll also say that there’s a local thrift store in town called The Way Station that also has been providing a lot of assistance for residents as well in town in general. They’re not necessarily working on testing and whatnot, but they are trying to provide assistance, put on small events and just kind of be a hub for where water can be picked up and all this sort of stuff in town as well. Yeah.

Farron Cousins: So, is there anything else you want to get out, you know, about what’s happening there? Because I know, again, you’ve spent so much time there, you’ve talked to so many people, so I don’t wanna, I don’t want you to leave with anything like, oh, I wish I would’ve said that. So anything else you want to tell us, you know, we’re all ears.

Louis DeAngelis: Yeah, no, I mean, the last point that I wanna make still here is that unfortunately, residents who live in East Palestine, who are still trying to get any sort of help to relocate are still to this day, required to go to Norfolk Southern to get any of that help. There’s no, you know, FEMA office where you can go to get relocation. There’s no federal government spot. You can’t, you don’t go to the state of Ohio. If you wanna get reimbursed for something as a result of the derailment, if you want to get out of town and stay in a hotel because your house smells, you need to go to Norfolk Southern to get any of that assistance. And unfortunately, you essentially need to beg for it. One resident that I’ve spoken to quite a bit, her name is Candice Desanzo, she has been able to relocate her and her children for, she’s gotten money for two weeks to be able to do this.

She lives very close to the derailment site, as do many people in this town. This is a small town. She got the relocation money for two weeks. Her house still smells, some of her children ended up being hospitalized for a period of time during this. Fortunately, right now, they are doing, you know, they’re doing okay. They still experienced symptoms, but not to the degree that they were. She had to spend over three days, 21, or no, 23 hours over three days to be able to get that assistance money just to leave for two weeks, 23 hours of her time to go beg this corporation. She told me she essentially had to cry to get the money. I mean, the fact that that is the system for these folks to get help is absolutely outrageous.

These folks shouldn’t have to deal with Norfolk Southern at all. They shouldn’t even have to talk to these people. Norfolk Southern should not be the one to decide, oh yeah, you get the money and you don’t. The lines are still extremely blurry as to who gets what. If you live in this part of town, maybe you get it. If you live in this part of town, you don’t. If you live in Pennsylvania, good luck. A lot of the Pennsylvania residents that I talked to, again, this happened basically two football fields from Pennsylvania and all this stuff for the most part, a lot of it blew right into Pennsylvania. Those folks are absolutely left out of the conversation for most of this. They’re getting no help if they try to go to Norfolk Southern. There’s been maybe a handful of people who’ve gotten assistance, but we’re talking a handful out of hundreds and thousands of people who really should be getting help from Norfolk Southern because this stuff blew right through their properties.

And in a lot of, you know, it’s hilly terrain. This stuff, the night of the derailment, I’ve seen photos from Pennsylvania where this stuff was just essentially like blowing right into these folks fields, into their homes. So the fact that in the United States of America, we’re letting folks have to go deal with the corporation that caused all of their problems to go beg for money and have them feel like they’re, you know, they’re feeling bad about it in a lot of cases because they’re like, oh, you know, I, like, they should not have to feel bad about this. This was not their fault. The fact that our government has not set up another way for them to be able to get this money is outrageous to me.

Farron Cousins: We, like you said, we have an entire government agency. We have FEMA. This is what you’re for. This is what you do. I mean, FEMA should be there with their little, you know, pop-up field offices. I’ve been through many hurricanes down here in Florida. I know how it works. I’ve been to them myself. They show up rather quickly down here. The same thing should be happening there. They say, look, here, you can, we can either reimburse you for the hotels. We can give you money up front. We’ve worked out a deal with this hotel. And then at the end of all of it, the federal government can say, okay, we’ve got a list of our expenses. Now we are gonna deal with Norfolk Southern. They’re gonna pay us back and we’re gonna be okay, but we gotta take care of these people. That falls on the federal government. I know the state government could probably do that to an extent.

Louis DeAngelis: Right.

Farron Cousins: But they don’t have the resources that FEMA does.

Louis DeAngelis: No. Agreed. And, but one, and I don’t know if specifically if this is what’s holding this up, but the Governor of Ohio has yet to declare a state of emergency over this.

Farron Cousins: Oh, geez, God.

Louis DeAngelis: So I’m sure that would go a little ways into helping this, but I don’t know what an emergency is if that isn’t an emergency, I don’t know what is.

Farron Cousins: Unbelievable. Listen, Louis DeAngelis, you can find all of this information, all of his travels on Is it slash Status Coup or is it Status Coup News?

Louis DeAngelis: Yep, slash Status Coup.

Farron Cousins: All right. Louis DeAngelis, thank you so much for joining us again, if you head back there, let us know. I’d love to keep talking with you about this issue as it progresses.

Louis DeAngelis: Absolutely. Thanks for having me on again. I appreciate it.