Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Baltimore bridge collapse: economic calamity

By knl9j Apr4,2024
News

A cargo ship collided with the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore, which is located on the east coast of the United States, in the middle of the night, causing the bridge to collapse and resulting in the deaths of six individuals. It has been more than a week since the incident.

The closure of one of the most important ports in the United States has now put 150,000 jobs in jeopardy and has caused disruptions in the supply chain.

“We never thought we would see the Key Bridge collapse like this,” said Brandon Scott, the mayor of Baltimore, who is still in a state of shock. It was like watching a movie about a calamity. Following a collision with a container ship on March 26, this structure, which was 2.6 kilometers in length, collapsed.

In terms of responsibility, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has rejected the terrorism concept. According to Nada Sanders, an expert from Northeastern University in Massachusetts, the ship had an issue during an inspection in June of last year, and Chilean officials had noticed a “deficiency” in the engine and auxiliary gear. There was no doubt about the soundness of the bridge’s framework. The bridges in Maryland received a “B” grade in a report that was published in the year 2020 by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Immediate action was taken by Vice President Joe Biden, who pledged to pay for the reconstruction of the building as soon as it was practicable to do so. But beyond the number of people who lost their lives (six), as well as the factors that led to the accident, questions are now being addressed about the repercussions of the catastrophe, which is one of the most severe that the United States of America has encountered in recent decades.

The city is already experiencing the effects of the disaster. The port, which is one of the largest in the United States and employs more than 150,000 people both directly and indirectly, is currently closed until further notice. A temporary navigation route that is open among the debris of the bridge is only used by a small number of vessels that are determined to be “essential.”

According to estimates provided by the Institute for Regional Economic Studies at Towson University in Maryland, the amount of activity that is lost each day is around fifty million dollars. A significant portion of the economy in the United States is currently standing still, notably with regard to the supply chain for automobiles. During the course of the previous year, near to 850,000 automobiles went through the Baltimore facility.

Additionally, the port is a pioneer in the management of agricultural and construction machines, in addition to being a leader in the importation of sugar and gypsum. The economy has grown vulnerable, despite the fact that other ports, such as New York-New Jersey and Virginia, should be able to make up for the shortfall. Should these establishments be the target of strikes or cyberattacks, the result would be a catastrophe of epic proportions.

However, throughout its history, Maryland has demonstrated that it is a resilient state. An incident that was memorialized in a song written by a native of the country, Francis Scott Key (1779-1843), who became the National anthem, was the successful defense of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor by the United States of America during the War of 1812 against the British. After the disaster that occurred in 2024, there will be reconstruction and possibly even a rebirth. It is anticipated that the stoppage of activities will allow it possible to locate a bridge and port that are more effective.

It is anticipated that the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore will have an impact on enterprises spread across the state of Maryland as well as on the states that are next to it. On the other hand, assistance is offered by the United States Small Business Administration in the form of disaster loans with very low interest rates and long repayment terms.

Several days after the Key Bridge was struck by a cargo ship that lost power shortly after leaving the Port of Baltimore, Maryland Governor Wes Moore requested and obtained a disaster declaration from the Small Business Administration (SBA). The disaster declaration was issued several days after the incident by the cargo ship. Following the collision, the steel span, which had been in existence for 47 years, collapsed in a matter of seconds, resulting in the deaths of six construction workers who had been working on mending potholes on the bridge.

Because it connected Interstate 695 to the other side of the Patapsco River, the Key Bridge was an essential transportation route for the northeastern United States. Since the collapse, travelers traveling through Baltimore along Interstate 95 must take either the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel or the Fort McHenry Tunnel. This applies whether they are traveling north or south.

Due to the fact that they are unable to use the tunnels, vehicles that are transporting hazardous chemicals have been rerouted to the west side of the Philadelphia Beltway. Moreover, the Port of Baltimore has been shut down ever since the accident occurred because the debris from the bridge is obstructing the shipping passage that leads to and from the Chesapeake Bay.

Currently, the National Transportation Safety Board is conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the collision and the collapse of the bridge.

An administrator of the Small Business Administration named Isabel Casillas Guzman issued a statement in which she said, “The SBA joins the entire federal family in grieving for the lives lost in the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.” At a time when Baltimore and the surrounding community are mourning and beginning the process of rebuilding, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Biden-Harris Administration are prepared to assist local small businesses in overcoming the economic disruption that was caused by the collapse of the bridge.

All of Maryland, all three counties in Delaware, and other counties in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia are included in the disaster proclamation issued by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The Economic Injury Disaster Loans make it possible for small businesses, agriculture cooperatives, aquaculture entities, and private nonprofit organizations to submit applications for up to two million dollars.

An SBA news release states that the loans cannot be used to cover the expense of property damage; rather, they can only be used to cover financial damages that is directly related to the disaster. Additionally, recipients are required to demonstrate that they are unable to offset the financial repercussions without creating hardship.

For small firms, the interest rate on the loans is 4%, while for nonprofit organizations, the rate is 3.25 percent. There is a maximum amount of $2 million that may be borrowed by each borrower, and the terms of the loans can come with a maximum duration of 30 years.

The application date for a loan is the 30th of December in the year 2024. For information on how to submit an application, go to sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance. In the event that applicants want assistance, they can contact the Small Business Administration Customer Service Center by dialing 1-800-659-2955 or sending an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Applicants who have a hearing or speech handicap can contact 711, as stated in the news release.

In the event that they require assistance, applicants may also go to a Business Recovery Center, which is located in both Baltimore and Dundalk. Here is a list of their locations and hours of operation:

“We are pleased to have been able to get this Economic Injury Disaster declaration so quickly,” said Stephen Umberger, the Maryland District Director for the Small Business Administration. “Despite the fact that no amount of business preparedness could have seen something like this coming, we are pleased to receive this declaration.” “I would like to express my gratitude to Governor Moore for his tireless efforts and prompt response to this situation, which enabled us to guarantee that local small businesses will now have access to critically important economic assistance.”

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