Hello. My name is Austin Miller and I am 21 years old. I lived in East Palestine, Ohio with my mom and dad until this past year. On the night of February 3rd, 2023, a Norfolk Southern train, carrying toxic hazardous materials that had caught fire, derailed 1200 feet from our home in East Palestine. Millions of gallons of toxic chemicals contaminated the ground, waterways, and air of our communities. We were told to shelter in place or evacuate - my mom and I stayed at my Aunt and Uncle’s house while my dad took our two English Shepherd dogs and slept in his truck a mile from our home. We all returned home the following night because the flames from the tanker cars had died down and we just wanted to be together. It seemed like everything was returning to normal-but reports on social media of dead fish in the creeks by our home and the fumes were extremely worrying for us. The EPA stated our air was fine, showing no health risks. Then Sunday morning, everything began to change quickly. We had a knock on our door, the sheriff dept was taking a head count of how many people were in the impact zone. We were being told Norfolk Southern was going to have a controlled burn of 1 tanker because it was failing. We searched for guidance and had little to none from local, state and federal agencies. On Sunday evening during a press conference that lasted roughly 1 minute, our families lives changed forever. We were told the 1 tanker of vinyl chloride was having a catastrophic failure, and to leave our homes immediately. During this time, my entire family was scrambling to leave our home, not knowing if we would ever see it again. In the next 24 hours, we watched as Norfolk Southern detonated more than 5 tankers containing hazardous chemicals onto the homes and village we loved. My Mom and Dad fought desperately, trying to locate a place for our entire family to stay together with our dogs. At that time we had 7 family members, 5 cars and 7 dogs with us. We wanted to stay together as a family. We escaped to East Liverpool, Ohio where my Mom began her fight to contact state representatives and try to help our family. The toxic chemical cloud went directly over my Grandmother and Uncle’s home. Every person We Love has been impacted by this man-made disaster that could have been prevented.
My Mom, Lonnie has been fighting so hard to bring the truth to light. My family watched as NS brought in sections of new rail, hours after the original derailment fires. We watched as workers, staying at our first location-a hotel, spoke of this happening again, acting like East Palestine was just another derailment to clean up. There was never any sense of urgency to keep my family safe.
My family has all experienced health issues over the past year. From coughs, rashes, burning eyes, tingling burning mouth/lips, migraines to severe trauma. My Mom has been diagnosed with PTSD. We made the decision as a family to leave our home that we all love of 30 years, because of my Mom’s PTSD. She’s experienced many nightmares all the while, continuing her fight for the truth. With Senator Doug Mastriano’s invitation, my Mom testified at the first investigational hearing that took place in Pennsylvania. Mom’s testimony was going viral back in March of last year, until it became heavily censored on social media. NS and the EPA are afraid of her testimony..
Our entire life has changed due to the toxic train derailment, and I want to ask for help for my parents. They have made the decision to sell our home, to get our family removed from the threat of the dioxins, toxins and horrific chemical exposures, But no one is interested in looking at our house. Our realtor has told us she’s never in her career had a listing for over 100 days without at least 1 showing. My parents need help. They took out a 30 year mortgage on a house built in 1956. The house is rural-in the country-away from the rail lines, so my mom can get away from the trauma she has experienced. We are trying to start over, a new life, and we all need help. We are worried about our health and we are worried about our financial future, as well. We’re extremely fortunate that we are able to leave. Many are not as fortunate and the state of Ohio has not helped anyone. They instead tell us to go to Norfolk Southern’s assistance center. We refuse to beg NS for help. My Mom refuses to beg the ones who destroyed her mental and physical health.
If you could help my Dad and I turn this new house into our forever home for my Mom, we would be forever thankful and grateful. Any donations will help and I have been taught to pay kindnesses forward, and if I’m able to do so, I promise I will!
Thank you so much for your support, and for caring about my family.
Forever in your debt, Austin Miller