Some homeowners in the area of the Harcros Chemicals spill said they either didn’t get the word or chose to wait out an evacuation they said they were told was not mandatory.

At 3431 S. Dixie Highway, Wayne Treesh said he discovered on his own what was happening.

“I was never asked to evacuate. I asked a deputy about it, and she said they would come tell us if we needed to leave. But they never did,” Treesh said. “They didn’t evacuate nothing according to what I was told.”

Treesh has been a truck driver for 21 years, driving for Milwaukee-based Omega Inc. He said his company doesn’t haul tankers because of the regulations associated with them.

“They don’t pay enough for the harassment,” he said.

Treesh said he was told a decision on evacuations would be made when HAZMAT teams arrived.

“They said they would use a chemical to clean up the spill that was going to stink. But I didn’t smell a thing. I shut the air conditioning off until I saw traffic start back up, just to be safe,” Treesh said. “I was not too happy with the way they ran it. The only way I found out anything about it was by getting in my truck and going to ask.”

Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood said deputies evacuated homes within a quarter of a mile from the spill site.

“We probably evacuated about 15-20 houses starting at about a quarter-til-nine this morning,” Chitwood said. “We went door-to-door, but there is little residential development in the area, and not a lot of those people are home during the day.”

Mark and Carmen Lebron live at 3026 Mayo St., near the corner of Corporate Drive and the entrance to Harcros. Mark Lebron said a sheriff’s deputy came by his house sometime after 8 a.m., telling him that evacuation was not mandatory at that point.

“I told my wife she may as well get up and go to work, even though she had not been feeling well (with allergies),” said Lebron. “So I stayed here and did some work inside the house. I didn’t have any problems. It’s not the first time there’s been a spill there.”

A press conference was held near the spill site at about 1 p.m., close to HAZMAT crews from two counties wearing yellow “space suits.”

“I’ve lived here 15 years, but lately I’ve been having second thoughts,” Lebron said. “But I saw so many people (working the accident) and members of the press, I figured the air was not so bad.”

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