Train Derails in Perry County - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Train Derails in Perry County

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PERRY CO -- A Canadian National train running northwest through Perry County derailed just inside the New Augusta city limits.

Sheriff Jimmy Dale Smith said18 cars slipped off the tracks.

"It appears to be a broken track that caused the train derailment," Smith said.

He said it could have been weather-related, but it is still under investigation.   Thousands of gallons of methanol leaked from the cars spilling onto Highway 98.  The highway was completely shut down for hours as crews work to clean up the mess.

"It's got a lot of traffic blocked up coming and going," New Augusta resident Johnny McSwain said.

A half mile mandatory evacuation was ordered.

"It's just a precautionary measure just to be on the safe side, and if anything doesn't happen nobody gets hurt," Smith said.

He said he is grateful for the help they've received from neighboring counties.

"We've got limited resources here in Perry County, but we've got a great bunch of neighbors," Smith said. 

Almost immediately, the Red Cross set up a shelter for the dozens of evacuees, and they reached out to help workers.

"These are my neighbors," Shelter Manager Betty Champagne Schmidt said.  "I live in this county, and I just want them to be safe."

Several businesses suffered because of the traffic disruption.

"Since the traffic's blocked off, we're having to re-rout, so we're not as busy as usual," Wards Assistant Manager Kandace Jenkins said.

But the restaurant is using this incident as an opportunity to serve others.  They've prepared hamburgers for the workers on scene.

"It's kind of scary," Jenkins said. "Our kids are just right across the street, and we're right at the edge of the evacuation, but we're here serving everybody, so we hope we stay safe."

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