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United Way and WJZ launch partnership to help those impacted by Key Bridge collapse

Here's how you can help those impacted by the Key Bridge collapse
Here's how you can help those impacted by the Key Bridge collapse 02:41

BALTIMORE -- WJZ and the United Way of Central Maryland have launched a partnership that will bring much needed help to those impacted by the Key Bridge collapse. 

The "Bridging the Gap Fund" is being built to anticipate the wide-ranging impacts of the disaster, as the Key Bridge connected jobs, commerce and more travel along the Eastern Seaboard. The collapse also cut off vessel access to the Port of Baltimore, which employs thousands in the region. 

The nonprofit organization said the surrounding communities expected to be the most impacted by the collapse, like Brooklyn/Curtis Bay and Dundalk, already had deep needs. 

"We are united for our neighbors, and our hearts are with the victims of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse," Franklyn Baker, president and CEO of United Way of Central Maryland, said in a statement. "As we've been working with our partners on the ground to understand what is needed, we are also taking into account our learnings from past disasters. What we know is that emergencies like this aren't over in a day. They have far-reaching effects on the health and well-being of people, communities, and our economy."

United Way has worked for years in some of the communities anticipated to be most affected by this tragedy, like Brooklyn/Curtis Bay and Dundalk. These are neighborhoods already facing deep needs.

Those affected by this event - or anyone in Maryland - can call United Way's free 211 Helpline, which directly connects calls to critical supportive resources and services.

The helpline has call specialists that speak multiple languages, and can direct callers to food, shelter and other urgent needs. 

United Way's partner, Pro Bono Counseling Center, offers free mental health support and can assist Spanish-speaking callers at 410-598-0234 or online

Anyone looking to donate to the fund can follow this link.

Crews are working to clear debris from the deadly collapse of the bridge and reopen the Port of Baltimore. 

The bodies of two construction workers were recovered from a submerged truck. Another was recovered last week. Three people remain missing and are presumed dead, but divers can no longer operate around the mangled bridge debris that has encased submerged vehicles, officials said.

The span was struck by a cargo ship that had lost power shortly after it left the Port of Baltimore early Tuesday morning.

The U.S. Navy mobilized barges outfitted with heavy lift cranes to help clear the Patapsco River of debris. Three cranes with varying lift capacities and support vessels began removing submerged portions of the bridge, and temporary channels to the port are expected to open Monday. 

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