EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – As officials continue to closely monitor the wreckage of the train derailment in East Palestine, evacuation orders remain in place that are forcing many businesses to temporarily shut their doors.
“It’s devastating. This should be a busy time of year for us, and there’s no one here. But you can certainly understand plants are not a priority right now,” said Donald Elzer, owner of Sutherin Greenhouse.
While it’s outside of the evacuation zone, Elzer said the majority of their employees live inside it.
“Most of them are in the evacuation zone. They’ve all relocated out of town, so we’ve told them don’t come back for work. Just stay where you are and stay safe. We’ll deal with this afterward,” Elzer said.
Just down the road, Doyle’s Fresh Meat and Deli on East Taggart Street sits about a half-mile from the crash scene. Owner Duane Doyle said he received a phone call Saturday morning from police asking him not to open. his store. He expressed his concerns for his business.
“My products are perishable. The longer I’m out of there, the more likely it is that I’m going to have product that I’m not going to be able to use because it’ll be wasted,” Doyle said.
Christian House Home Health and Assisted Living sits less than half a mile away from the meat market. Owner Karen Christian said after sheltering in place for about a day, they were told to leave. Twenty-two of their residents were relocated and then they ran into issues finding enough room at a hotel.
“We’re tired because we moved essentially a mini assisted living probably in half a day,” Christian said.
The businesses we spoke to are cooperating with authorities and following their guidelines, but they did not expect things to escalate the way they have. They are unsure what the future looks like for their businesses or when they will be able to return to a sense of normalcy.
Norfolk Southern said Tuesday that they will go directly to businesses about assistance once the evacuation is lifted and they can reopen.
“The claims department and their teams will go around to each business after everyone returns and go through with each owner any of the conerns or different things,” said Scott Deutsch of Norfolk Southern Railroad.