He told FEMA to designate a federal disaster recovery coordinator to oversee long-term recovery and that Ohio’s request for a major disaster declaration would be held open.
On Thursday, FEMA designated Jim McPherson to serve as the coordinator. According to FEMA, McPherson will conduct a comprehensive assessment of any unmet needs that are not addressed by Norfolk Southern and would qualify for federal assistance. He will also collaborate with federal, state and local governments; the private sector; and voluntary, faith-based and community organizations supporting the recovery.
Biden says the FEMA administrator can submit a recommendation if she finds needs are not being addressed by Norfolk Southern.
He also wants a report within 30 days from the EPA about air, soil and water monitoring.
Biden is also asking other agencies to give him updates.
East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway released the following statement:
“The Village of East Palestine extends its gratitude to President Joe Biden for his executive order, which emphasizes the protection of our residents and surrounding communities following the Norfolk Southern train derailment.
This executive order echoes our commitment to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of everyone affected by the derailment. We appreciate the extensive cleanup, monitoring, and health assessments, and the commitment to holding Norfolk Southern accountable by all federal, state, regional and local authorities. These measures are critical for the restoration and healing of our community.
It is noteworthy to mention that the executive order does not issue a federal disaster declaration. Such a declaration would have enabled state and local authorities to directly access federal programs from FEMA. However, Ohio’s request for a disaster declaration will remain open, and will be reconsidered if FEMA receives new information warranting the declaration.
We cannot overstate the incredible efforts of our first responders, local fire departments, and the East Palestine community. Their courage, hard work and unity have shown the nation why we are, and will continue to be, a great place to call home.
We look forward to working with the new Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator as they conduct an assessment of the unmet needs of our community. The Village of East Palestine remains committed to working together with all federal, state, and local agencies to ensure a comprehensive recovery process.”
Chelsea Simeon contributed to this report.