COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — Vintage Donald Trump was on display in East Palestine on Wednesday, as the former president threw jabs at the Joe Biden administration and FEMA, taking credit for FEMA's reversal to provide help to the small community nearly three weeks after a train derailed there.
Several cars were carrying toxic vinyl chloride when it ran off the tracks on Feb. 3, prompting an evacuation of residents in the town in northeast Ohio, along the Pennsylvania border.
Trump needed only a couple of minutes to mention "fake news" and speak critically of President Biden -- who has not yet visited East Palestine -- as well as FEMA for initially ruling that the toxic disaster did not meet the requirements needed for federal aid.
"They were doing nothing for you," said Trump, who is running for president in 2024. "They were intending to do nothing for you ... When I announced that I was coming, they changed their tune. It was quite the phenomenon."
East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway posted on Facebook over the weekend that he "met with first wave of the FEMA assessment team. They will be on site (Saturday) and for the foreseeable future watching over cleanup in conjunction with state and federal EPA." It's not clear what the agency's long-term assistance might look like in East Palestine.
"What this community needs now are not excuses and all the things you've been hearing, but answers and results," Trump said.
Trump said his team brought in bottles of water and cleaning supplies for the residents of East Palestine, adding that he'll come back if necessary. His visit prompted Democrats to call attention to Trump's record of loosening safety regulations for railroads.
U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, also visited the site and thanked Trump for visiting.
Conaway thanked Trump as well, and also heaped praise on the efforts of firefighters.
"If it wasn't for them, this could have been a very different situation," he said. "We're a small community. We don't want all the media attention. We want our community to go back to the way it was. It's been a very difficult situation."
East Palestine schools were closed Wednesday ahead of Trump's visit. The announcement was made due to the heightened security measures and street closures impacting the transportation of students to and from school.
It's been a revolving door of officials this week in East Palestine. On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Health opened a clinic to help residents who have concerns.
Several leaders, including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and EPA Administrator Michael Regan, also visited East Palestine on Tuesday. They visited several homes and drank tap water to demonstrate the water there was safe. This comes after suspicions from residents and elsewhere about the water quality.