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Port of Baltimore seeking to find 'new normal' after Key Bridge Collapse, director says

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BALTIMORE -- When the Francis Scott Key Bridge fell, the Port of Baltimore was shut down, impacting thousands of port workers and their families.  

This all happened just weeks after the port's new executive director took the job.

Jonathan Daniels was used to early mornings and late nights, but nothing compared to March 26, when the Fort McHenry Channel, one of the deepest on the East Coast, shut down.

Daniels says he awoke to a phone full of missed calls and texts, rushed to work, and began processing what had happened.

"We do train these port professionals for the closure of a channel, but certainly not to this extent," Daniels said.

Now, four weeks later, he is still working through the details of getting regular ship traffic up and running, impacting 250,000 jobs across the region.

"We need to allow the port to be able to rebound and to set the stage for that next level of growth," Daniels explained.

Several ports along the seaboard stepped up when Baltimore was forced to stand down. As crews work to open the full channel, Daniels says he's made his message clear to companies and shipping lines: Baltimore wants its cargo back.

Despite the challenges, the port administration says this is an opportunity to grow - creating a new normal after weathering the storm.

"We're looking at growth.  That is cruise, its cargo, its container. We're also looking at expanding what we do for the environment," Daniels said.

Getting to these future goals will take time, but the primary goal is getting ships to the docks and people back to work.

"I'm not entirely sure we ever get back to normal. You certainly won't get back to what it was like March 25. March 26 and beyond, there is a new normal. We're going to have to adapt to that. We're going to have to grow around what occurred that morning," Daniels said.

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