Lauren Ward, who works at Ooh La Lal hair salon on Main Street, said early Tuesday, as she observed the crews at the accident scene, that her boss was planning to open.
Ward, who lives in a third floor apartment above the salon, said she was awake when the train derailed.
"It was like midnight. … I heard the train. And it was screeching so loud, as loud as I'd ever heard it. And I thought to myself it sounds like it's derailing," Ward said.
John Beck, who lives in an apartment on Main Street near Ward's, said he slept through it.
"I didn't hear anything until 2 o'clock until I heard the idling of the fire engine," Beck said.Beck, who has lived in Ellicott City for 40 years and in his Main Street apartment for 26 years,
"I've never seen a derailment like this; I've never seen a derailment, period," added Beck, who has lived in Ellicott City for 40 years and on Main Street for 26. "Just a few accidents."
Asked if he's ever felt the trains or the old track posed a safety hazard, Beck said he's never really thought about it.
"The train is just part of the environment, just part of the landscape," he said.
But VanHeel, who just moved to Ellicott City from Washington last September, was not as surprised.
"It's got to be a 100-year-old bridge," he said. "You'd expect something to happen."
VanHeel, noting that he normally walks his dog around midnight, thought aloud about how he could have walked by the bridge when the accident happened.
In the year that he has lived in Ellicott City, VanHeel noted there has been flooding, a deadly shooting at a nearby church and now a train derailment.
"It seems like something is always happening," he said.
However, Van Heel said he is still happy with his decision to move to Ellicott City.
"We love it," he said. "It's a great place."
Tuesday afternoon, as crews, media and on-lookers swarmed the restricted zone of Main Street, it was business as usual at Subway. The crowds, some said, were actually good for business.
"It actually hasn't fazed us," said Jacob Boffen, a Subway employee. "It's brought us more business than we usually have. We had our first customer at about 8 a.m. Usually, we don't have our first customer until 9 or 10 a.m. ... People want to see it, and I guess after they see it, they get hungry. I guess we'll have to see if (clean-up is) prolonged."
Brenda Franz, who owns Attic Antiques 'N Things, said she had never seen so many people on Main Street on a Tuesday afternoon, walking by her shop on the non-restricted part of Main Street to get closer to the scene.
"So many people are walking by, coming down here after they heard about it," she said. "I don't think it's going to have an impact on business. I've had plenty of sales today."
The general manager and sommelier at Pure Wine Cafe, Mark Bowman, said things were "a little odd, a little crazy" as he prepared to open at 4 p.m. Pure Wine Cafe is situated right at the top of the restricted zone, and it was too soon to tell if business would be affected, Bowman said, though anytime something creates traffic or parking issues, it has an effect on customers.
"To have half the street blocked off, it's going to cut into our daily routine," he said. "Short of that, we have to keep it business as usual. This is just sad, and surreal, that's the best way to describe it. ... At this point, we'll take what we can get."
Megan Dennehy, who lives above Great Panes on Main Street, on the closed portion of the road, was awake when the train derailed.
"We were awake, playing music and making food," she said. "This is just unbelievable. My boyfriend thought he heard, or felt, a shudder, and we didn't think anything of it until we heard the sirens."
Greg Myers, who lives on Town and Country Boulevard near downtown Ellicott City, said: "It's just a terrible thing that happened.
"Glad I wasn't up there because we used to be up there back in the day," he said.
Myers said he was surprised by the derailment.
"I always thought it was safe," he said. "We used to party up there."
Staff writers Luke Lavoie and Sara Toth contributed to this article.