An Amtrak train heading from Washington to New York crashed just north of downtown Philadelphia last night, killing at least 7, injuring 143, and leaving dozens still missing.
“It is an absolute disastrous mess,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said at a news conference.
Luckily, this derailment, like other passenger ones, was contained to the train-track area. If it had spilled over into the surrounding Port Richmond neighborhood, it’s likely residents would have faced even greater economic losses than they currently do.
AS of 2013, 23 percent of Port Richmond, which once served as a residential entry point for Italian and Polish immigrants, lives below the poverty line, including 44 percent of children there, according to U.S. Census tract data. Just 45 percent of the neighborhood is employed, and just 20 percent graduated from college.
In 2008, two trains collided in Los Angeles’ Chatsworth neighborhood, killing 28. Here too, the damage was limited to the immediate train-track area, although a nearby school that was repurposed as a triage center had to hire an independent cleaning contractor over concerns about lingering medical waste.
Joe Castro, the incident commander for Chatsworth, said the area was fortunate that neither train was carrying hazardous materials.
“Then you get a vapor cloud…and that becomes an issue,” he said.
Although there doesn’t appear to be much damage to any buildings in Port Richmond, the neighborhood has basically been shut down indefinitely while emergency workers and investigators tend to the accident site.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.