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Shadow of East Palestine derailment lingers

Zsuzsa Gyenes, a former resident of East Palestine, Ohio, where the Norfolk Southern train derailment occurred, recounts her experience with the train derailment and her subsequent moves because of it on Tuesday, Feb. 13, in her hotel room in Cranberry Township. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle

An article in the Sunday edition of the Eagle by William Pitts detailed the plight of a young mother and her son who are living in a hotel in Cranberry Township as a result of the Norfolk Southern train derailment and chemical spill one year ago in East Palestine, Ohio.

Norfolk Southern is paying for the third-floor room, Zsuzsa Gyenes said, but living in temporary quarters is affecting her young son physically and mentally.

Related Article: 1 year later, East Palestine refugee scrapes by in Cranberry hotel

Gyenes said her son became violently ill on the night of the derailment, and now struggles to sit in front of the computer at the hotel for six hours for online classes.

The boy also lacks the yard accessible to even those living in an apartment, which also is hard on the lad.

Gyenes is over a barrel financially, as she cannot return to her job at the U.S. Postal Service in Beaver County while helping her son with his online classes.

She expressed frustration at Norfolk Southern for its inconsistent service when she calls its Family Assistance Center for help, which she called “a nightmare.”

Gyenes also is exasperated at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which deemed her duplex home in East Palestine safe for habitation, even though she said the smell in her former home is intolerable and she becomes ill if she remains in the building for more than a few minutes.

While she has found the Cranberry Township community welcoming and is considering making Butler County or Beaver County her permanent home, Gyenes wonders how she will be able to afford a place to live having been out of work so long.

The Butler Eagle wonders how many others who were going about their lives in East Palestine are now displaced like Gyenes.

It’s not easy to restart one’s adult life after a disaster without help, especially when a child is involved.

The Eagle hopes a report in an upcoming edition will have better news for Gyenes and her son.

We all need a little help now and then, especially when our circumstances were caused not by our decisions or actions.

— PG

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