Evacuees wait in long lines for aid from Arkema reps

There were long lines and a lot of frustration as Arkema representatives tried to offer assistance to evacuees living by the plant on Saturday.

CROSBY, Texas- There were long lines and a lot of frustration as Arkema representatives tried to offer assistance to evacuees living by the plant on Saturday.

The company said Saturday no new fires or smoke had been reported since the two fires on Friday. Plant officials point to extremely high water and power loss from Harvey as the reason for Friday’s fire, which was burning organic compounds.

Related: Massive fire burns at Arkema plant in Crosby

Representatives from the company met with evacuees at Crosby High School on Saturday morning. There were several people in line awaiting money and hotel vouchers.

Some evacuees said they were told to come back tomorrow after being in line for hours. Many expressed concerned about how fast the hotels and lodging were fling up in Crosby. 

When Crystal Iveys walked into Crosby High school, she was looking for answers from the representatives. 

"My sons medical equipment is inside and we can't get it," said Iveys. 

She was hoping find out when she could go home. Instead she walked out with a few hundred dollars in gift cards and the option for a hotel that she couldn't use because they are too far. 

"They said they don't have the room and lodging here, so if we take the hotels we have to go to Pasadena or downtown Houston," said an evacuee. "We can't do that, none of us can afford that."

Crystal and her neighbors understand  the evacuation is for their safety and appreciate the company for providing some assistance, but many say clarity might bring some peace of mind.

"There was a lot of unanswered questions," said Iveys. 

At this time, evacuees are not allowed to go back to their homes. There is still a mandatory evacuation in place for a 1.5 mile perimeter around the plant. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are about 1,300 households and 3,800 people in a three-mile radius of Arkema. 

The plant makes organic peroxides which are used in a variety of things from pharmaceuticals to construction materials. The problem is these organic peroxides can burn if not stored and handled under the right conditions. The company says the fires from the burning organic peroxides will emit a thick black smoke which could irritate the eyes, skin and lungs.

For a map that shows potential hazardous chemicals and refineries in the Houston area, click here.

Arkema released the following statement late Saturday morning: 

"As of 9/2/2017 at 11:15 AM CDT, no further developments at the Crosby site have been reported, no new fires or smoke have been reported today. The flood waters have significantly receded from the site.

Now that airports are open and roads have become more passable, we have dispatched a special team to provide assistance to impacted community members and local Arkema employees, to assist with emergency response, and to interact with governmental authorities.  They will primarily provide expertise to authorities and aid to residents displaced by the situation at our Crosby plant.

IMPORTANT:  We urge everyone in the area to respect the 1.5 mile evacuation perimeter surrounding the site.  Please stay away.  This cordon remains in effect and everyone should remain outside this perimeter until local officials announce that the area is safe."

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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