EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – Former President Donald Trump spoke to those in East Palestine after a short stop at Little Beaver Creek on Wednesday, telling locals, “You are not forgotten.”
Trump landed Wednesday afternoon at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Airport. He met briefly with local leaders at Little Beaver Creek before making his remarks to the media.
Details of his visit had not been released to the public in advance, but several of Trump’s supporters were in the area to greet him with cheers. Some of the supporters chanted, “We love you, Trump!” and “U.S.A.!”
Trump spoke to a small group of local leaders, first responders and the media at the local fire station. He said he is donating thousands of bottles of cleaning supplies and pallets of bottled water to the area that were collected through his Trump organizations.
Trump was complimentary of Norfolk Southern and its commitment to the village.
“It means that the affected communities beyond the borders of East Palestine are going to be taken care of, and they’ve said so. They’ve said it loud and clear and I think they probably mean it,” Trump said.
Trump remarked to the crowd of supporters that “nobody” came to East Palestine until he announced that he was coming.
Trump wondered why FEMA was hesitant to commit to East Palestine, but had a reason why FEMA has since decided to help.
“When I announced that I was coming, they changed their tune. It was an amazing phenomenon,” Trump said.
Initially, FEMA was not called in for support. Over the weekend, members of the agency arrived.
The former president has been vocal in his criticism of the Biden administration for not taking action at the federal level sooner.
“I sincerely hope that when your representatives and all of the politicians get here, including Biden, they get back from touring Ukraine, that he’s got some money left over,” Trump said.
Trump was also joined by East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway, Sen. JD Vance, Sen. Michael Rulli and Representative Monica Robb Blasdel.
JD Vance also spoke, saying cleanup is not done yet and that there’s still work to be done.
Mayor Conaway thanked first responders — particularly the firefighters — for their work during the derailment. He said this has been a “very difficult situation” but that “together, we will make EP strong again.”
East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick thanked Trump for the supplies. He also praised the work of his fellow first responders and other agencies — like the EMA — that stepped up to help.
Before Trump left, he stopped at McDonald’s in East Palestine, where he ordered meals for the firefighters and those at the restaurant and passed out hats to some of the people who were there.
When asked about recent criticisms that it was his administration that rolled back rail regulations, Trump said he “had nothing to do with it.” He also criticized Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for not visiting the area sooner. Buttigieg plans to come to town on Thursday.