Reporting Rochelle Ritchie
ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — Much of Ellicott City is still off limits because of the debris and cleanup from the train derailment on Tuesday.
Rochelle Ritchie has the plans to get things back to normal in the area.
There’s still a large cleanup that remains. There are still piles of coal and debris that need to be removed.
Trucks continue to roll into downtown Ellicott City, their mission to clean up the mess made after a CSX train derailed early Tuesday morning, spilling 9,000 tons of coal and killing two young women, Rose Mayr and Elizabeth Nass, who were hanging out by the tracks.
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“They’re doing the best they can as fast as they can,” Sally Tennant, who owns a business in downtown Ellicott City, said.
For 72 hours, Howard County public works employees and contractors worked tirelessly pulling out piles of coal, cleaning debris and making sure the environment is not at risk.
“That operation there is cleaning the river to make sure that as little of anything gets into the Patapsco River,” Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said.
Main Street remains blocked with heavy equipment and caution tape. Coal still covers the road and buildings and it is starting to fill the air.
“Not the clean, crisp air you would expect on such a beautiful day,” resident Barbara Watson said.
Howard County officials say air quality is not a serious issue for residents except for those with asthma or emphysema.
“When the convoys of coal that are removing the coal and the coal dust go by potentially stay in the house for the few minutes that they go by,” Health Officer Dr. Peter Beilenson of the Howard County Health Department said.
“They’re actually spraying down some coal piles to keep the dust manageable,” Ulman said.
So far, all 21 derailed cars have been removed and a majority of the coal has been hauled away.
The county executive said for the next 48 hours, focus on cleanup will turn to fixing the infrastructure, clearing out the remaining coal and repairing the bridge.
“CSX is getting it back to business. I want to make sure this town gets fully back to business as well,” Ulman said.
With schools set to open on Monday, parents are hoping that the downtown will be open by then.
“I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like if it’s not open by Monday,” Watson said.
Ulman said he does not expect the cleanup to affect the bus routes from Monday and hopes that Main Street can open in the next two days.
A viewing is underway for Elizabeth Nass and her funeral will be held on Friday. The funeral for Rose Mayr is on Saturday.