Ripley Residents React To Train Derailment

RIPLEY – The late night Tuesday derailment of a Norfolk & Southern train in Ripley had a lot of folks confused as to what had happened.

Residents described a “terrible noise.” “It sounded like a tornado,” said one townsperson.

“I didn’t know what it sounded like,” said another who lives directly across from the accident site, “like maybe the train had hit something and dragged it.”

The accident occurred between Shaver Street and South State Street (Route 76), right in the heart of Ripley. Roughly 15 cars derailed. Two of the cars, carrying ethanol and propane started leaking which caused an evacuation of homes near the tracks, both on Main Street and Mechanic Street in Ripley.

“The response was wonderful,” said Mary Teemley, Ripley resident. “I didn’t believe it at first but then a neighbor called me and said we had to evacuate.” HAZMAT workers and train personnel showed up quickly and took control of the situation.

“If we had medication at home that we left behind, the firemen took us back to get it. They were wonderful, and very professional,” added Teemley.

First responders from the Ripley Fire Department relocated residents near the crash. Evacuated residents were told to go to the Ripley United Methodist Church where, according to Robert Ebert, a church member who helped with the shelter efforts, about 35 people stayed overnight and slept on cots. Some residents were still there as of noon Wednesday, and were served breakfast, donated by the church. Michael’s Pizzeria in North East, Pa., contacted the Ripley Fire Hall to see if food was available for the firefighters and local residents who had been displaced and then donated and delivered pizzas and salads to the fire hall and church.

“My wife, Lynn Spellman, grew up in Ripley,” said Michael Yori, owner of Michael’s Pizzeria, “and she thought we should check to see if we could help.”

Orton’s Fruit Farm also donated fresh fruit for the evacuees.

Pastor Craig Buelow and Ripley resident Ted Wiech worked through the night to set up cots and facilities for the residents who stayed the night. Cots were provided by the Red Cross as well as stew packets.

The Norfolk & Southern Railroad has begun setting up a command center at the Methodist Church. Any claims to be filed by residents can be made there. The cause of the derailment is still under investigation.