Property value the latest toll after Ohio derailment?

Rich McHugh and Sean Noone

4 hours ago

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (NewsNation) – As Norfolk Southern continues to promise relief to residents of East Palestine, some in the region are being forced to consider the idea of ​​selling their homes during economically dire times.

Over the weekend, Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw apologized to the Ohio community and vowed to put things right after the Feb. 3 train derailment and subsequent “controlled release” of toxic chemicals carried out to help the railroad reopen bring. Local residents have since reported incidents, including dead animals near the derailment site and skin rashes, which they attribute to the dangerous chemicals being released into the air and water.

“I just want you to understand that I’m terribly sorry for what happened to this community,” Shaw said Sunday, more than two weeks after the derailment.

Shaw, who owns more than 34,000 Norfolk Southern shares worth nearly $8 million and a home in Atlanta worth more than $4 million, has been trying to calm the community. But it does little for community members whose main investment is their homes.

And it’s that investment that makes many of them uneasy.

Steve McCay, who has lived in eastern Palestine for 11 years, says he no longer feels safe in the area and is preparing to sell his home in a declining market.

“I will definitely try (to sell the house). Will I still feel bad if I try to sell it to someone who’s going to move in here? Are they getting smarter? Will they suffer long-term effects,” he wondered.

McCay lives just 1,200 feet from the crash site, where toxic chemicals released into the air and water. He worries about his health and the health of his family and those around him. He said he has no plans to bring his children, a 5-year-old and a toddler, back home.

“… Known carcinogens, nervous system problems, infertility,” he said of the chemicals and their side effects. “What kind of parent would I be if I didn’t protect my children?”

Another East Palestine resident, Ted Murphy, is considering the same thing.

“My house is full — just waiting to get changed,” he said.

With the long-term effects of the chemical plague unknown, the community is unlikely to recover any time soon.

Dave McIntire, a real estate agent in eastern Palestine, said he has yet to see any earthquake-prone housing transformation but is preparing for inevitable major changes.

“Obviously a lot has changed in the real estate market, it’s going to affect it — it’s just going to be.”

However, Shaw and Norfolk Southern are attempting to adopt a more upbeat tone.

“Anyone who wants an air test calls and gets it,” Shaw said Sunday. “Anyone who wants bottled water calls and they get it.”

McCay doesn’t think that promise is anywhere near enough.

“What are you going to do to replace all of a city’s drinking water?” he said. Norfolk Southern “should push beyond what they’ve done.”

Now he’s forced to think about a future he didn’t plan.

“I just finished remodeling my kitchen, bathroom windows and staircase,” McCay said. “It wasn’t like I had plans to go anywhere; I intended to stay here. This is home. Now I’m trying to figure out where we’re going from here.


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