Supporters Rally Around Ellicott City After Deadly Train Derailment
After two full days of road closures, many Main Street businesses are aching for customers.
The sun is shining, parking lot F has some open spaces, and most of the shops on Ellicott City's Main Street, a regional tourism destination, are open for business.
“I’d hope that people would come on down and walk down [to lower Main Street],” Sue O’Connor said, standing behind the counter at The Wine Bin. “It’s lovely weather. Go shopping.”
Two days after a CSX train derailed in Ellicott City, killing two 19-year-old women and shutting down Main Street at the Baltimore County Border, business is picking up in the Historic District. Slowly.
Business at the Wine Bin was not too adversely affected, O'Connor said, because the store's location near Ellicott Mills Road, right next to parking lot F.
Other businesses have felt the squeeze.
“Yesterday was terrible,” Sweet Elizabeth Jane owner Tamara Beideman said Thursday afternoon. “Tuesday was OK,” she said, because people were coming down to Main Street to see the damage.
But even though she and other shops were open Tuesday, authorities had asked that people avoid the area. “People don’t come if [the] news reports ‘all of the street’ is closed,’” Beideman added.
CSX has a program in place to help provide local business owners with some financial assistance, according to spokesman Gary Sease.
“A couple of our people yesterday afternoon canvassed the local businesses in the immediate area to start to do an initial assessment of impacts,” he said from Florida, where he’d returned after spending time at the scene.
“We know the impacts are still there. We do have two or three people on site and have been there since the derailment.”
At about 2:30 p.m., Sease said that a representative had met with "Most if not all of the business owners and residents in the immediate area." Sease said he was looking for contact information for that representative.
To help stores that have seen business drop, local bloggers are asking residents and potential day-trippers to head out to Main Street this weekend. HoCo Rising suggested an “Ellicott City Appreciation Night.”
Make a reservation at The Rumor Mill, Portalli’s or Cacao Lane. Get your hair cut at Ooh La Lal. Do something this weekend to put some money back into local merchants and let them know that you support them. There may be one day where we don’t have that chance.
The food-centric HowChow blog also chimed in, imploring people to:
Go tonight. Go this weekend. Eating out is a pleasure, not a sacrifice. But your pleasure -- and Tom's idea -- can help out some people who have had a year of floods, blackouts, and now train disasters.
And it’s not just local celebrities speaking up for businesses – Ray Rice posted Thursday morning on Facebook:
As if the Ellicott City train derailment wasn't already tragic enough, now i'm hearing that businesses are really suffering bad. Please go support the shops and restaurants on Main Street!!
Maybe he’ll stop by for a bite.
National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Eric Weiss said at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday that he did not have a timeline for re-opening Main Street.
"We're doing our thing and we're transporting the rail and trying to do reconstruction," he said.
As for the road re-opening, he said, "I don't know when that's going to happen."