Minnesota leaders respond to train derailment that caused evacuation in Raymond

Several Minnesota lawmakers and emergency management officials spoke to Raymond residents impacted by the train derailment early Thursday morning.

The derailment, which led to hundreds of evacuations and also caused some of the cars carrying ethanol to catch fire, is still under investigation. However, the evacuation order was lifted around midday Thursday.

RELATED: Evacuation order lifted, residents allowed to return home after train derailment in Raymond

Governor Tim Walz went to the church holding evacuees from Raymond Thursday morning. While there, he spoke to residents and reporters about the effort from state and local agencies in the area.

Early Thursday morning, the governor said he was briefed by U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) spoke to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS about the incident.

“I am so glad the people of Raymond are back in their homes, that’s the right thing,” Klobuchar said. “I am glad we got on this right away, that we figured out that it wasn’t toxic chemicals, but that still leaves some unanswered questions for Minnesotans, and that is this: Why do we see these major train derailments in modern history? As technology has gotten more sophisticated, we actually should see a decrease in derailments. We have seen a decrease with rail overall, but not with the class one carriers which tend to be the longer trains carrying the more dangerous chemicals.”

Klobuchar then spoke about a bill proposed by two Ohio senators that she cosponsors. The bill, titled The Railway Safety Act of 2023, would create higher safety standards, require two people on each train and have higher civil penalties for a train derailment.

State Representative Dave Baker (R-Wilmar) shared a link where people can donate funds to people impacted by the Raymond train derailment. Anyone who wants to donate can select the “Wilmar Area Response Fund” from the dropdown menu and send money to Raymond residents.

Baker also shared the following written statement:

“First of all, I am grateful that this tragic situation has not resulted in any injuries or fatalitiesWe all owe a debt of gratitude to our first responders who reacted quickly to evacuate the area and made sure residents could be moved to safety. I would also like to thank the generous residents of Prinsburg and the Central Minnesota Christian School for stepping up and making sure that the evacuated had a place to go. Moving forward, I remain in constant contact with city, county, state, and federal officials to make sure that the community has the support they need.”

Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn. District 7) also released a written statement:

“Thanks to the quick work by first responders assisting the Raymond community, I am told the fire is under control and there have been no injuries. My team is on the ground with local officials and will work to assist in every way we can.”

State Sen. Andrew Lang (R-Olivia) released a statement that can be read below:

“Thank you to the first responders who acted quickly to address the situation and ensure everyone in and around the Raymond community is safe and accounted for. We must also recognize and thank surrounding communities and local organizations who immediately stepped up to ensure every displaced person has a place to go as the situation gets resolved. I plan to be out there today, willing to offer any assistance necessary.”

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

“Thanks to the incredible first responders in Raymond and Kandiyohi County, Minnesota, this morning’s train derailment appears to be contained. I’m grateful for their quick response and leadership that kept Minnesotans safe. But today’s derailment is another reminder that Congress needs to act on rail safety now. I’m cosponsoring the bipartisan Railway Safety Act to enact commonsense rail safety measures and help prevent future disasters.”

The Minnesota State Senate will hold a hearing at 2 p.m. on Friday to discuss proposed rail safety legislation authored by Sen. Rob Kupec (DFL-Moorhead).