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Cargo of Arsenic Lost in East Coast Storm : Weather: Coast Guard searches for five containers swept from ship. Property owners survey wind and water damage to summer homes in Maryland.

January 06, 1992|From Associated Press

OCEAN CITY, Md. — Property owners Sunday found their summer havens swept off foundations and boats in splinters, and the Coast Guard searched for five cargo containers loaded with arsenic that were lost at sea between New York City and Baltimore during the weekend's violent coastal storm.

"The mobile homes came right off their foundations. They were floating. Boats are up in the woods. It looks like a tornado hit the place," said Lois Ruby, who was in her mobile home near Ocean City when the storm hit Saturday.

In Baltimore, the Coast Guard said where and when the arsenic containers slid overboard was not known. If the poison gets out near shore, it could cause problems, a Maryland official said.

The 492-foot cargo ship Santa Clara left New York on Friday and arrived Saturday in Baltimore minus 21 of the containers. Five of them held a total of 540 drums of arsenic trioxide, a powdered chemical compound used as a pesticide and rat poison. The others were empty or held non-hazardous materials, such as cotton fiber, the Coast Guard said.

The storm also whipped up high winds in Delaware, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina.

Officials in New Jersey had reports of floodwater crashing through windows, sweeping away gardens and driving residents from their homes. Also, a limited state of emergency remained in effect as shore towns cleared streets of seaweed and bits of boardwalk.

Route 1, the main road along the Delaware coast into Maryland, remained closed Sunday as crews cleared away debris.

Dewey Beach, Del., residents were told not to drink their tap water. The storm ruptured water and sewer lines. National Guardsmen hauled in drinking water Sunday and protected property.

A state of emergency was lifted in Rehoboth Beach, Del., where only a half-block of the mile-long boardwalk was open.

In Snug Harbor, Md., several homes were washed from their foundations.

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