Blount Co. one year after the train derailment
The Maryville train derailment sparked an investigation by Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health (TOSHA) that uncovered problems within the Alcoa Police Department and the Blount County Sheriff’s Office.
The July 2015 train derailment in Maryville hospitalized at least three Alcoa Police Officers and five Blount County Sheriff’s Deputies according to a report by TOSHA.
Now, one year after the crash, businesses and residents remember what it was like to evacuate their homes and stores.
Cameron Perkins, owner of Five Star Auto, reflects on the days following the train derailment. He said those days of not having doors open impacted his business.
“One thing that I was concerned about was having people from out-of-state actually coming to purchase vehicles,” Perkins said. “So I had to call them and I actually lost a business off of that. It’s crazy that it has been a year.”
Perkins said the aftermath of the crash displaced him and his family and it is a situation he does not want to ever go through again.
“I guess now looking back it felt kind of like, it’s not the same as being in a war zone,” Perkins said. “But I felt like a refugee for a few days, so all I can say is I’m glad I don’t live in a war torn country because it is an awful feeling just seeing all the lines and people taking over the hotels. It was strange.”
Other Blount County businesses like Ginger’s Flowers, located about 300 yards from the crash scene, took a hit when all of their herbs and produce had to be thrown away.
“They didn’t make us throw anything away, but just because we wanted to be safe,” Drake Martin, employee at Ginger’s Flowers said. “And make sure our customers are safe, we we went ahead and threw out over 100 pounds of produce and maybe 150 to 200 herbs and vegetables that we had put on the ground.”
Residents like Ronnie George and his wife said they were not in a big hurry to leave their home until they saw the sky.
“What alarmed us the most was probably when we saw the smoke,” George said. “But it was blowing away from our direction, from our subdivision.”
CSX, the rail line involved, offered gift cards and reimbursements for hotels to those who were evacuated.
Video courtesy of WVLT Local 8 News.