Residents Gladly Return Home After Evacuation Lifted

Bill Hicks left his home of 30 years as soon as he learned folks were being evacuated.

He describes the smell of the thick black smoke in the air,"We could kind of smell it. It wasn't a deep bad smell but it was sensitive to the nose."

Hicks' concern was his next door neighbor, Modene Martin. At 90-years-old and with no car, he was her only way of getting out.

"I've got that pulmonary fibrosis and I was breathing so bad. I got my breathing machine and the police woman she said bring it with you," says Martin.

Like her, other evacuees didn't have time to pack their necessities.

Ruth Dunham says, "[I have my] cell phone that's it! And clothes on my back."

Before the evacuation was lifted, evacuees were told to go to Brookshires and City Hall in Chandler until further notice.

Even the Red Cross opened a temporary shelter at St. Louis Baptist Church in Tyler.

"Red cross shelters are open as long as they're needed. If it took a week for the fumes to go then we'll be open for a week," says Susan Campbell with American Red Cross of Smith County Public Affairs.

That plan is no longer necessary. Evacuees hoping things will be back to normal after a bizarre and unexpected turn of events.

Most of the evacuees said they didn't hear the train actually crash.  One said he he heard a loud boom but thought someone may have been popping off shots in the woods.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com