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Archive for the ‘catastrophe’ Category

Our President Bush visited Minneapolis on Saturday. His objective was to see, first-hand, the I35 bridge that collapsed near downtown Minneapolis last Wednesday. He met with the Governor Tim Pawlenty, Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybeck (whom I’ve met on a couple of occasions and truly like), and other government leaders and state officials. He also toured the wreckage of the bridge and talked to a survivor who helped rescue kids from a school bus that was involved in the collapse.

This morning as I listened to a video replay of Bush’s comments on KARE-11, my son overhead and asked: “Why would Bush come to see a bridge in the river?”

I said, “Curiosity.” And then I elaborated on the importance of our nation’s leader. His concern for the lives lost, impact of the catastrophe on a large city, and role as “head coach” to a team (the citizens of the U.S.) that will be responsible for rebuilding and remaking, in our case, a bridge.

Figureheads. We all have, in our minds, the relevance of figureheads in our lives. From the Grandma Esthers who everyone revered and counted on for advice in the family to, yes, POTUS.

Some presidents are better than others at “feeling the pain” when people are in shock. Our current commander in chief learned a valuable lesson in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and so when he arrived on the approach of a fallen bridge in Minneapolis on Saturday, I along with the bulk of Twin Cities residents, looked thoughtfully and favorably on his presence, comments and interest in helping this city back up to its feet after being taken down just a few days ago.

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Five hours into the aftermath of the Minnesota 35W bridge collapse near downtown Minneapolis and tragically, but also miraculously, seven people have been confirmed dead of the hundreds who were treated for injuries.

How did this happen and why? These are questions the Minnesota Department of Transportation and National Transportation and Safety Board will be asked to answer.  Meanwhile, Minneapolis faces two years of reconstruction of one of its primary arteries. The disruption is minor considering the lives lost, the injuries, the emotional trauma of sons and daughters, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas.

The heroic efforts of Minneapolis residents and those traveling on that 2,000-foot span of concrete and steel will become the story – has already become a large part of the recovery. It’s how we, as society, recover from tragedy. Who stepped up? Who came to help the 60 kids stranded on a school bus? Why did a team of a half dozen cyclists turn their bikes around when they heard the rumble and saw the dust rising? Whose lives did they touch?  The nameless, unforgettable heroes who, with their own hands, risked their own lives and saved the lives of perfect strangers.

That’s where we find our wherewithal when we have to wake up in the morning following a tragic afternoon on a hot summer day and move forward with our lives. We look in the faces of our cubicle neighbors at work, the store owner downtown, and our next door neighbors at home and we see hope in humanity. Hope that just maybe that face will lend a hand and help another if and when that time arrives.

And that, my friends, is what makes America the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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(c) ceg 2007

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Today, during rush hour at about 6 p.m., the I-35 (35W) Mississippi River bridge near downtown Minneapolis, collapsed. Read the latest story from the Minneapolis Star Tribune here.

35W Bridge CollapseMore than 100 vehicles plummeted from the steel arch deck truss bridge into the river and onto the wreckage. Emergency personnel were on the scene immediately as well as the Office of Homeland Security and FBI. “A steady stream” of survivors, conscious and unconscious were being rushed to area hospitals.

Photo Courtesy: Fox 9 News Minneapolis

Eye witnesses and victims described the bridge collapse saying they heard a loud rumble and then the concrete buckled sending cars skidding, flying and nose-diving in every direction. While the collapse occurred near the end of rush hour, traffic was still bumper to bumper through this area. the bridge carries more than 100,000 vehicles in both directions each day.

Deck replacement and approach construction were underway on the bridge, indicating that the collapse perhaps was due to some failure caused by the work and repair that was underway.

In addition to the collapse into the Mississippi River, the bridge trusses and concrete fell on another highway passing under the bridge, a railroad train under the bridge, as well as bike paths and pedestrian walkways. Construction workers were also on and under the bridge during the collapse.

UPDATE: At 9:30 p.m. central time, Aug. 1, CNN reports that there have been six fatalities, at least one of which is related to drowning.

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