Preparing for train derailment dangers - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Preparing for train derailment dangers

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Trains run throughout many communities here in the Heartland and emergency managers say being prepared for a derailment can save your life. Trains run throughout many communities here in the Heartland and emergency managers say being prepared for a derailment can save your life.
In Benton, Illinois all three major train companies in America haul cargo through town daily. In Benton, Illinois all three major train companies in America haul cargo through town daily.
Franklin County EMA also works with the National Weather Service to let people know if there is a dangerous situation in their community. Franklin County EMA also works with the National Weather Service to let people know if there is a dangerous situation in their community.
BENTON, IL (KFVS) -

Trains run throughout many communities here in the Heartland and emergency managers say being prepared for a derailment can save your life.

In Benton, Illinois all three major train companies in America haul cargo through town daily.

"We've got Canadian National, Burlington Northern-Santa Fe and Union Pacific all hauling things from coal, cars and hazardous materials," said Gary Little, deputy director for the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency. "And they come through the heart of most of our communities here in the county."

So in order to keep everyone as safe as possible if a train derails, Little says they have to be prepared for a wide array of things.

"The chemicals these trains are hauling, some don't have an odor and some are clear you can't see them. There is gases some are very explosive, others are caustic and can really cause a lot of damage," Little said.

"It's very concerning for us, because we may not know what chemicals we're dealing with immediately," he said. "We may not know how much of that chemical we're dealing with. So we have to have an all encompassing view to keep people away from that area until we know what we're dealing with and how to handle it."

The Franklin County Emergency Management Agency works hand in hand with local police and fire departments to put an evacuation plan in motion if they need to, when there is a derailment.

And they're not the only ones who are worried about what's going by on the trains.

"I'm always wondering what they're carrying because I have a newborn baby," said Lacey Akin of Benton. "So it worries me that if they're carrying something heavy, and if they derail I'm going to have to evacuate. That's what worries me the most because they're going by so fast that it scares me."

"You wonder sometimes what they're carrying. You know it could be something bad," said Georgia Lohmann of Benton. "If they did derail here I don't know what we would do, it's scary. And with the kids around here playing outside it's dangerous."

Franklin County EMA also works with the National Weather Service to let people know if there is a dangerous situation in their community.

"We can utilize that emergency alert system just like if it's a tornado warning or severe weather warning," Little said. "We can activate that system in Franklin County to notify certain people they need to evacuate an area, to stay away from an area or where to go to take shelter."

Little said there is also one simple thing that people can do to help them be better prepared in a disaster. "Contact your local communities and locate where your evacuation shelters are, so you'll know where to go if you have to evacuate."

You can also go to www.nixle.com and register your cellular devices to receive text message alerts in case of a disaster in your area.

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