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East Palestine provided the life this family always wanted. Now, they fear it's gone forever

Jordan Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Parenting News

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — Abbie Parsons remembers watching her children run and splash around the waters of Sulphur Run and Leslie Run in East Palestine with their cousins and the neighbor kids. One of her sons could spend hours nearly every day fishing for minnows, she said. Once, the children took their little tent to Leslie Run, just about 10 feet away from their house, to camp out.

It was exactly the kind of life she wanted for her five children.

"We have a ton of memories," Parsons said. "They were obsessed with that creek. I mean, I probably have pictures upon pictures of them having fun out there."

Four years ago, Parsons, her husband Johnnie and their children moved to East Palestine, Ohio, from Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. They left Pennsylvania seeking a more peaceful and more affordable environment to raise their kids in, while staying close to family in the Pittsburgh area.

And that's what East Palestine, a tight knit village of under 5,000 people, offered.

"We were looking for a small town environment for our children to get away from the bustle of city life," she said.


The charm of their once quiet, small town life now feels like a distant memory after a Norfolk Southern train with about 50 cars derailed Feb. 3 in East Palestine, displacing residents and compelling some, including the Parsons, to look to move.

Parsons said the risk of staying is too high.

"When I see my home, I see a lot of hard work, a lot of memories," she said. "But I know in my heart of hearts that, at this point, that it's no longer our home. I'm just super fearful for the medical future of the kids. That's the reality."

The Parsons have three daughters and two sons from ages 8 to 21. The parents are especially worried about them since several have health conditions that make them more vulnerable.


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