EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) — Norfolk Southern hosted an open house for local business owners Thursday.

The gathering was hosted by Norfolk Southern and took place at the East Palestine Memorial Library. The focus was helping local operators get through some tough times.

Anna Doss was at the open house. She has operated small businesses in East Palestine for the last 23 years. She admits the last six months have been a struggle ever since that train derailed in town and effectively cut off the business she was getting from Western Pennsylvania.

“They would use Taggert Street to come here. Now, that’s been closed since February 3. I don’t know that they come,” Doss said.

Will Harden with Norfolk Southern said the railroad wants to support the business owners.

“To get the word out that East Palestine is open for business and Norfolk Southern is alongside them,” Harden said.

First News first met Don Elzer at his greenhouse in May. He says the railroad along with the Ohio and federal EPA have helped to let people know the area is safe, but he admits recovery is a slow process.

“There’s some things that can’t be fixed short-term. The perception that’s outside the area is a big problem and everybody’s working at that,” Elzer said.

Doss said the railroad has helped her small business over the last six months, enough so that her outlook here has changed dramatically since early February.

“I was devastated. Just like a black cloud within our mindest, but I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I think,” Doss said.

For starters, Doss said the railroad paid to rebuild the stone wall separating her gas station from the train tracks — another step in what she calls the process of recovery.

Norfolk is hosting a similar event next Tuesday, Aug. 29 from 4-7 p.m.