EMA director gets to experience derailment from behind scenes

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By Thomas Barr

 NICHOLS - Four homes in Bullitt County remain evacuated as derailed train cars continue to pose some danger in southwestern Jefferson County.

Mike Phillips, director of Bullitt County Emergency Management, said as of Friday afternoon, the 1.2-mile evacuation area remained in place.

While the derailment site is in Jefferson County, a small portion of Bullitt County is affected.

Four homes which are located off Katherine Station Road, south of Highway 44 and Dixie Highway, are part of that evacuation area.

A fire on Wednesday also affected students who attend Nichols Elementary.

Phillips said he recommended that superintendent Keith Davis close the school on Thursday and Friday due to the fire which continued to burn and the possibility of moving a pair of derailed cars which carried a hazardous material.

During some of the past week, a five-mile radius was classified as shelter in place, which requested people to stay indoors. Nichols Elementary was in that area.

“Instead of getting the kids to school and then have the shelter-in-place issued, I felt it would probably be best to just keep the school closed,” said Phillips.

Davis said that he agreed with making safety of the students and staff a top priority in making the decision to close school on Thursday and Friday.

The county will apply for an emergency waiver on the two days. If not granted, Davis said the two days would probably be added to the end of the school year.

Staff members worked at Bullitt Lick Middle, where students who needed child care were also sent. Davis said things went well on both days.

Bullitt County Public Schools are off on Monday for professional development and Tuesday for election day.

Phillips said Bullitt County officials were there to lend any assistance. Fire crews from Shepherdsville and Zoneton helped on Thursday afternoon to provide backup assistance.

From his standpoint, it was an opportunity to use some of his experience in the 2007 derailment in Brooks to assist others. It was also an opportunity to see some of the same responders who were in Bullitt County four years ago.