Some East Palestine residents can’t bring themselves to move away

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 6:24 PM EST
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EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WOIO) - Many people in East Palestine are packing their bags and moving away out of fear for their health following the train derailment, while some lifelong residents can’t come to grip leaving the small they have called home their entire lives.

“It is a special little town because most people know everybody, we’ve got a few new ones,” lifelong resident Tammy Kleean said. “We follow our basketball team, our football team, track team, our band.”

East Palestine has always been home for Kleean. It is the place she met the love of her life and raised their children.

“My husband and I started dating in the 9th grade and been together since,” Kleean said. “Almost 50 years.”

For the last 14 years, she and her husband have lived across the street from the railroad tracks.

“Did we know something like this could happen, of course,” Kleean said. “We see the trains go by our house all the time, but we thought Norfolk Southern would protect us.”

Kleean said several of her neighbors have moved out in the last month due to concerns for their health and safety.

Norfolk Southern has offered to pay for temporary relocation for residents near the derailment site.

Kleean said she will likely never leave her home.

“No, definitely not,” Kleean said.

She does worry about the future of this small town and the generations to come.

“Is it going to become a ghost town, are people going to move out, are businesses going to go under,” Kleean said. “That scares me.”