Sunday, August 05, 2007

I35W BRIDGE COLLAPSE

What a terrible sight. I went to view the bridge collapse and it brought a new insight to the term "shock and awe". It is surreal to see a bridge that I have often traveled just gone. The exit ramp I used many times was strangely pointing slightly up in the air instead of having its normal down slope. The hundreds of other people walking around looking at the eerie sight and the satellite trucks and police should have made the area so noisy but it was strangely quiet. One guy was sitting in a grassy area singing and playing a guitar. He seemed out of place yet was a comforting distraction. Please say a prayer for those that are still missing and their family and friends.

I was driving the 11 route when we got the text message on the bus stating that the I35W bridge collapsed in the area of Washington avenue. I thought they meant the smaller bridge near Bobby and Steves gas station. Still, I thought "Oh no, the Twins game is starting in about an hour. I bet there were a lot of people on that bridge." Later we got a message that it was the bridge in the area of Washington avenue and 4th street SE...I couldn't picture that in my head. It wasn't until I pulled in that I knew it was the LONG bridge and it had collapsed into the Mississippi river! I was too shocked to cry.

Just before the text messages started coming on the bus, I was going up University avenue into Columbia Heights. There were lights and sirens headed toward downtown. I thought it was strange. One was a Ramsey County Sheriff car. I remember thinking "What is he doing in Hennepin County? Must be a heck of a car chase going on." After I got the messages and was headed back on my return trip into downtown, the action around me was scary. There were so many emergency vehicles of all kinds from all over the Twin Cities and suburban areas screaming toward the downed bridge, I lost count of how many there were. I was driving the bus and the traffic was thick. We were stuck in the middle of the Hennepin avenue bridge. I'm sure I wasn't the only one playing the bridge falling scenario over in my head at that time. Where would we land? What could I do to help everyone survive? I breathed a small sigh of relief when we were over the bridge.

When I got off work I called my mother in Wisconsin. I had spoken to her earlier in the day, but thought she may see this on the news and didn't want her to worry about me. She seemed relieved to hear from me. My brother in Texas had already called her when he saw it on CNN news. She had completed her head count of family here so I'm sure she felt a little more at ease. She asked where I was when it happened and I let her know I was not near the area. The scary part is, the route I was doing pulls back into the garage over that bridge when the last trip leaves you on that side of town. Luckily, that wasn't the case for me. I told my mom to say a little prayer for those affected by this disaster. We always kid her about her direct line to God. Seriously, when she prays things happen. I couldn't help but call and tease her the next day. I told her when I went to bed that night, the news had confirmed 9 people dead. The next morning there were only 4 !! I told Mom she helped bring 5 people back to life!! Hey, a little humor is a good thing in a time like this.

Seriously though, I would ask everyone...whatever your religion is, please pray for all those directly affected by this nightmare. When all is said and done, it is merely an inconvenience to most of us here in Minneapolis. However, some people have lost family members and, worse yet, some people are still missing family members. Keep them all in your prayers. If you want to do even more, I would suggest to everyone who is able to give either blood or money to the American Red Cross. They were on site very quickly and are still helping those who need it and all the rescuers that are still working in the river. I think they are a very reputable organization that steps up to the plate quickly and efficiently when there is a crisis like this.

Thank you all for your prayers and support in this very difficult time.

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