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Residents Of 26th Street Collapse Could Be Displaced For 40 Days

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Ileto Christie 370x278 (2) Christie Ileto
Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s been two days since a massive retaining wall caved-in down in Charles Village, collapsing onto CSX railroad tracks below. Trains are once again traveling through, but homeowners nearby are still not at home.

Christie Ileto has the latest from frustrated residents who may not be able to go home for more than a month.

In little white bags, Ernie McNair and his family carry their lives for the next 40 days to the car.

“I can’t describe the feeling. I wish we didn’t have to do it,” said McNair. “Those of us who have businesses are just trying to get our pieces out.”

McNair is one of almost two dozen residents along E. 26th Street between Charles and St. Paul streets out of a home Friday after Mother Nature shows who is in charge.

Cell phone video tells the tale of a massive embankment collapse Wednesday onto a CSX rail track. Residents feel their warnings about a potential collapse fell on deaf ears.

Engineers are now studying whether the ground is safe to support their homes. Mark Truelove is forced to be patient and worry about right now.

“Where am I staying? What do I need to be there? How are we going to get this solved efficiently?” he said.

With so many people stopping by to take in the monstrous sinkhole, police say they’re beefing up patrols to make sure nobody crosses the yellow tape and gets hurt and that nobody passes the gate except residents trying to get their items.

Wednesday’s calamity leaves some displaced residents with little to say. Others simply want to know what went wrong and who’s to blame.

“What everyone is waiting for is to meet with the mayor, meet with the engineers,” said Nells Schumacher. “We still have no answers to those questions.

Friday morning, city officials met with some of those homeowners to detail hotel, food and transportation assistance the city would provide while engineers study whether the ground is safe to support their homes.

Related Story: Amazing Video–Charles Street Landslide Caught As It Happens

“CSX has been a horrible, horrible property owner and neighbor,” said City Councilman Carl Stokes.

Stokes represents the district and attended the meeting with frustrated homeowners who feel their warnings to the city and CSX about a possible collapse were ignored.

Stokes is among those pointing the blame for the collapse at CSX.

“They don’t even sweep the property that they own, let alone maintain apparently the infrastructure,” Stokes said.

The mayor was not part of that meeting with the displaced residents. For now, she’s holding off on comment while the city gathers more information.

While the investigation into what went wrong and who’s to blame continues, cleanup crews have cleared the tracks and trains are now once again running on CSX’s primary East Coast line. Displaced neighbors are hoping that’s a good sign.

“If the CSX trains can be on that block, we’re hoping we can be on that block too within a few days,” said Larry Saunders, who lives on 26th Street.

CSX released the following statement Friday afternoon:

“Soil and debris from a mud slide in Baltimore have been removed from CSX Transportation tracks, and customer service restored over that line. However, nearby residents remain out of their homes as local officials assess the condition of the nearby saturated property. Around 5 a.m. today, trains in the area began moving again and operations resumed in support of Seagirt Marine Terminal.

“CSX continues to work with local officials to determine the cause of the mud slide, which came after heavy rains in the area. CSX also continues to work with officials to support the safety and recovery of area residents and businesses.”

With few answers shedding light on the problem, residents are left out of a home and in the dark.

The city has put some of the displaced residents in nearby hotels. Others are staying with family members.

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