Local Marina Open 24/7 to Support Baltimore Bridge Collapse Responders

March 29, 2024
Anchor Bay East is located a mile away from the collapse Francis Scott Key Bridge and is being used by workers for breaks and to fuel boats.

DUNDALK, Md. — Alex Del Sordo got the call early Tuesday.

Del Sordo, owner of the Anchor Bay East Marina in Dundalk, heard an employee’s voice on the other end of the line: “You’ve got to get down here.”

The worker, who lives on a houseboat at the marina, was awakened by a roar that sounded like a “rumbling train ripping through town.” It turned out to be the sound of the nearby Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsing into the Patapsco River, just seconds after it was struck by a cargo ship.

Del Sordo was at the marina by 5 a.m., and that’s where he would stay for the rest of the day, as Baltimore County firefighters, divers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers workers and other first responders cycled in and out.

By water, Anchor Bay East is just about a mile from the collapsed bridge, now the site of extensive salvage and cleanup efforts. Normally a hub for pleasure boaters grabbing crabs or a crush at the on-site Hard Yacht Cafe, the 55-slip marina has in recent days become a headquarters of sorts for some of those spending hours on the water by the bridge, diving, scanning with sonar and planning for the massive undertaking to come.

Del Sordo, who took over the marina from founders Art and Tina Cox less than two weeks ago, adjusted services to meet the first responders’ needs. The marina’s fuel dock is now open and staffed with attendants 24/7, and the cafe is open for warmth and coffee from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, with food service starting at 6:30 a.m. The marina’s bathrooms and showers are open to first responders, too.

A truckful of snacks, donated by the North Point-Edgemere Volunteer Fire Department, is on hand when divers, firefighters and others get hungry. The cafe also discounted meals by 50% for first responders, who have lately been able to eat for free thanks to the generosity of local businesses and customers, who donated money to the marina to cover the remaining cost of the food.

Del Sordo said he’s raised about $8,000 so far to support the emergency crews. With months of work ahead, he said he plans to offer extended hours, shelter and half-priced meals to first responders “indefinitely.”

Wednesday afternoon, a Coast Guard cutter pulled up to refuel. Earlier that day, the marina’s mechanics raced to fix a Baltimore County fire boat with a broken propeller. The vessel was back on the water in less than three hours.

“It was like a NASCAR pit crew,” Del Sordo said.

His business is one of several in the Dundalk area that have rallied to help after Tuesday’s disaster, even as the impact of the bridge’s collapse on the communities directly surrounding it remains unclear.

Kimberly Scroggins, the president of the Greater Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, said the business group was in the process of reaching out to members to see how they’ve been affected. On Facebook, the organization encouraged followers to donate to the local fire department’s food drive.

Scroggins said she recently spoke with one business owner who had chosen to open in Dundalk because of its proximity to the Port of Baltimore.

“We have a lot of members who rely heavily on import and export,” she said. “The biggest inconvenience will be going around the Beltway.”

Businesses in Northern Anne Arundel County, on the other side of the bridge, face uncertainty, too.

Beth Nowell, CEO of the Northern Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, said the extent of the fallout is, for now, unclear.

“This is a devastating incident, especially due to the human extent and financial impact of this tragedy that is going to hit businesses and residents,” Nowell said. “I think this is the tip of the iceberg. We haven’t seen the immediate impact; the impact will come and it is coming.”

Shipping companies located in the county will undoubtedly be affected. So will bars and restaurants who drew traffic from both sides of the bridge.

“People who would have blown across the bridge for dinner might not go,” Nowell said.

Anne Arundel County-based customers of Key Brewing Co., a craft brewery located a short drive from the bridge that shared its name, will now have a much longer trip if they plan to pay a visit. But on Wednesday the brewery was focused on a fundraiser for longshoremen and other workers impacted by the bridge collapse and subsequent closure of Baltimore’s port, said Molly Korman, who along with her husband Nick Volk was helping to plan the benefit event.

Korman and Volk, who own Old Eastern Ink Shop, a Timonium-based screenprinting company, linked up with the brewery, which was looking for a way to help in the wake of the collapse. The couple, who have connections in the local music scene, are pulling together a concert Friday evening at the brewery, with a donation table and proceeds from a T-shirt with a Key Bridge design raising money for dock workers’ unions.

“It’s a silly little T-shirt, but the proceeds can help you do big things,” Korman said.

“When you feel helpless, you want to do something,” said Volk.

At the Anchor Bay East Marina, Del Sordo said he’s heartened by the opportunity to help.

“I could never do what they do,” he said of first responders. “But what we can do is fix stuff. What we can do is provide 24-hour fueling and a place to have a nice hot meal that for the most part they don’t have to pay for.”

“That’s a pretty cool way to support everyone around here.”


©2024 The Baltimore Sun. Visit at baltimoresun.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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