Baltimore bridge collapse is port's version of a global pandemic

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Latest connected nan Baltimore span illness probe

Latest connected nan Francis Scott Key Bridge illness investigation successful Baltimore 02:46

Businesses and workers that supply services related to nan Baltimore port's maritime activities are already emotion symptom pinch each alloy postulation suspended aft the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

Theresa Abel, operations head for Davis Ship Service, a logistics institution that offers garbage removal, motor portion replacements, and different alloy support services, told CBS MoneyWatch that 100% of her company's work is tied to nan port.

For decades, Abel received a dependable travel of calls and emails from alloy operators seeking retired nan company's services. Now, nan phones are silent. "It's almost scary really quiet it is. We person nary emails, nary telephone calls," she said. 

The 10-person company's storage stores vessel parts for incoming vessels, and she expects it to beryllium quiet by nan extremity of nan week, pinch vessels astatine oversea diverting to adjacent ports and nary caller orders coming in. 

"Now that they've been diverted, I'm sending shipments out. I sent 4 aliases 5 boxes to New York yesterday," Abel said. 

New video shows aftermath of Baltimore span collapse 04:45

Davis Ship Service is still moving connected a fistful of ships that were already docked astatine nan larboard of Baltimore when nan span collapsed. "They request stuff, they'll person to person their sewage pumped disconnected while they are here, but it's very quiet," she said. 

Michael Moss, proprietor of Moss Marine, different mini business that performs method repairs connected ships astatine nan port, said that "if ships don't travel in, past my marketplace is not there." 

He said he could beryllium tapped to thief make repairs to nan Dali, nan ship that collapsed into nan Key Bridge. 

"They will request to walk immoderate money successful nan larboard earlier they time off to make it safe to travel. They're going to person to do thing successful my arena, whether I americium nan contractor aliases personification else," he said. Otherwise he expects to beryllium called to different adjacent ports to work ships, requiring him to travel, and making his services much costly to clients.

"It will costs much for them, because I person to travel. It's an inconvenience," he said. 

Bigger disruption than COVID-19

Indeed, each business astatine nan larboard of Baltimore will beryllium "severely challenged" by nan span collapse, Maryland Senate president Bill Ferguson told CBS MoneyWatch Wednesday.

Ferguson referred to nan arena arsenic nan port's type of a "global pandemic," comparing nan imaginable upheaval to nan effect connected businesses and employment during COVID-19, which had severely disrupted supply chains.

The port's operations straight support 15,000 jobs. Indirectly, nan larboard supports different 140,000 jobs successful hospitality and different industries, making it a awesome economical motor for nan region. Port workers are employed by different businesses, including trucking companies, instrumentality repair businesses, tug vessel operators and more. The economical outlook for specified businesses is grim, if they don't person meaningful financial support fast, Ferguson added. 

"The scope of businesses and jobs that will beryllium affected is truthful unbelievably diverse," Ferguson said. "There are companies that hole nan hinges connected cargo containers, we person bay pilots, longshoreman and dockworkers. At this point, each of them are affected."

Unlike immoderate industries and commercialized operations, Baltimore's larboard was capable to withstand COVID-19, because world commerce persisted. "The larboard still functioned and businesses related to it were deemed essential," Ferguson said. "But this shuts down world commerce for this region.'

Layoffs expected

Ferguson said he's spoken to mini business owners who opportunity they expect to person to laic disconnected workers successful nan coming weeks, pinch nary caller business coming in. 

"We are trying to put together authorities for mini businesses for illustration them that are trying to find a measurement to support their workers connected and utilize them moreover though nan larboard is unopen down," Ferguson said. 

It's basal that they person assistance arsenic accelerated arsenic possible, too. "They can't wait, because nan larboard is unopen down today," Ferguson said. 

Baltimore span illness investigation could return up to 2 years, officials say 01:58

The span illness has made moreover Ferguson rethink really important nan larboard has been to nan region. "We return it for granted sometimes because it's ever conscionable there, and now it's not," he said. 

Cruise statement usability Carnival told shareholders it could suffer up to $10 cardinal successful net arsenic a consequence of nan collapse, while a workers national said thousands of its members could suffer their jobs. 

Scott Cowan, president of nan International Longshoreman Association's Baltimore local, told WTOP news that 2,400 ILA members "are soon going to beryllium without jobs."

That's why Maryland lawmakers are presently drafting emergency authorities that would provide nonstop support to affected businesses. 

Providing incentives to port-related businesses to promote them to support a beingness successful Baltimore is different important constituent of nan legislation, according to Ferguson.

Won't effect wide U.S. economy

While it's clear nan span illness will person an outsize effect connected nan section economy, nan incident won't person a important effect connected nan wide U.S. economy. 

"Nevertheless, since that larboard is nan 15th largest successful nan country, handling only 1.5% of full nationwide instrumentality traffic, moreover an extended closure wouldn't person immoderate effect connected either GDP aliases inflation," Capital Economics main North America economist Paul Ashworth said successful a investigation note. 

Megan Cerullo


Megan Cerullo is simply a New York-based newsman for CBS MoneyWatch covering mini business, workplace, wellness care, user spending and individual finance topics. She regularly appears connected CBS News Streaming to talk her reporting.