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Riviera Beach residents told not to touch debris washed up from Key Bridge collapse

By Caroline Foreback

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    BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Debris, including large pieces of wood, has washed up on the shores of a riverfront neighborhood in Anne Arundel County following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Members of the Riviera Beach Community Association say they are concerned and are looking for guidance.

Riviera Beach sits about a mile down the Patapsco River from the Key Bridge.

The bridge was once the beloved backdrop to their neighborhood, but now pieces of it are washing up on their shores.

“It’s devastating,” said Courtney Telfer, Vice President of the Riviera Beach Community Association. “It’s very hard to see that it used to be part of the bridge.”

RBCA board member Jeffrey Brewis said the first piece of debris showed up a day after the catastrophic collapse.

“It was unbelievable that it made it here that fast, but I’m expecting to see more,” Brewis said.

In a press conference Saturday, Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment Susanne Dorsey said the Maryland Department of the Environment sent inspectors to the beach to investigate.

Telfer said they were told not to touch the debris.

“We don’t know if there are chemicals or contaminants on them so we’re just leaving it there and letting the authorities take care of it, hopefully,” Telfer said.

Neighbors said the large pieces of wooden debris with metal parts will be more of a problem when the weather lets up.

“It’s going to be an issue with swimming,” Brewis said. “We do have a beach here where people swim all summer. It’s going to be an issue with boating.”

The association has been in touch with their representative, Delegate Brian Chisholm (R-31), about what to do with the debris.

“Lumber in the water is a very dangerous situation for anybody that’s on the water,” Chisholm said.

“We want to make sure that whatever is out there floating, and ending up on the shores, is disposed of properly and people know what to do with it,” Chisholm said.

Neighbors hope piece by piece, they’ll find their way back to normal

“It’s going to be a long road ahead but we’re all in this together,” Telfer said.

Delegate Chisholm and MDE confirmed debris can be reported to the Key Bridge Joint Unified Command hotline at 410-205-6625.

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