MENDON, Mo. — In the midst of the devastation from the train derailment near Mendon, Missouri, some want to recognized the heroes who stepped up to help when they didn’t have to.

Not only were there first responders on the ground, but also community members from nearby towns who rushed to the scene without hesitation when they heard help was needed.

Katie Smith lives just 3 miles from the site where that Amtrak train hit a dump truck and derailed Monday. She said the community’s response made her realize this is where she belongs.

Mendon has a population of less than 170 people, and the train had 287 people aboard, including passengers and crew.

Yet when crisis occurred, residents didn’t stray away. They ran right into the chaos to help.

“She said yes, they need all hands on deck, so I got out there as fast as I could,” Smith said.

And in a moments notice, this small town between corn fields got to work.

“It just seemed like mass chaos,” she said. “There were people everywhere, people on top of the train getting people out. There were people on stretchers. There were helicopters landing, ambulances.”

Passengers helping passengers and people helping people, doing all they could for those in need.

“People were standing over other people on stretchers trying to poor water in each other’s mouths,” Smith said. “It was just very humbling.”

On Wednesday, the Missouri State Highway Patrol shared photos of donations received — cases of water, sandwich supplies and more piled high.

Smith said this isn’t just a town or a state you pass over.

“Missouri is often referred to as a flyover state, but I really felt like that day, central mid-Missouri showed up, proved to be a force to be reckon with when people are in need,” she said.  

Moving forward, Smith plans to keep in contact with those she helped, including a young girl from Las Vegas who also stood over a fellow passenger to keep him cool.

Three days removed from the crash, she’s confident of one thing.

“It made me realize that this is exactly where I want to spend the rest of my life,” Smith said. “These are the people I want to be surrounded by.” 

It’s just one of the many stories from the past few days of people stepping up when it mattered most, and one thing is clear: The people in Mendon can be counted on.

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