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Archive for the ‘tragedy’ Category

When a major Interstate bridge shook, fell and crumpled into the Mississippi River a couple months back, there was an oh-so-brief moment when everyone rushed to the rescue and recovery of those who survived and the families of the 13 who did not.

Today, crews began constructing the new bridge that will span the river and, eventually, rejoin this major artery of transit through Minneapolis. As the first pile of dirt was being moved, the federal government announced an additional $124 million in funding on top of the $250 million already promised to build a new bridge. But where is the help for the people who need it today?

A few news stories and articles have appeared in local papers and broadcast outlets as survivors make their cases for the financial help they need to rebuild their own lives. So far, there hasn’t been a big groundswell of support from local, state and federal agencies designed to assist in situations like this one. Some just need new transportation as their car may have sat under 10 feet of water for two weeks. Others might need help with medical bills and lost salaries because their injuries kept them in hospitals or out of work for weeks on end.

Legislators and Governor Pawlenty are “working on a plan” to help with this need, which will get addressed in next year’s legislative session.  This alleged help that’s coming may as well come in 2011.

When compared to the big picture of replacing a bridge, providing some financial help to those who need it seems like a no brainer. But apparently it takes buckets of brains at the very top, followed by endless hours of meetings and debate to make it all happen.

Our country is red-taped to death and this is just another example of how priorities have shifted to the detriment of our very neighbors whom we turn to when earth-shattering, life-changing tragedy strikes.

C’mon Minnesota! Let’s not forget the ones who need you the most.

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Is this a big surprise to anyone? More like “overdue” in my book. She’s been given every chance. However, instead of K-Fed getting custody, these kids should probably be handed to parents or grandparents.

The story from the New York Daily News gives all the details…

LOS ANGELES – Britney has lost her kids!

In a devastating blow to the spiraling-out-of-control songstress, the same judge who two weeks ago found she was partying too hard has ordered Britney Spears to turn over her young boys to her ex-husband.

Kevin Federline, who has shared the two boys 50/50, “is to retain physical custody of the minor children” after noon tomorrow, Judge Scott Gordon said in yesterday’s one-page ruling that didn’t specify why he took the extraordinary action.

There were reports last night that K-Fed may already have little Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, in hand.

Spears was spotted whisking the boys through a Carl’s Jr. drive-through for lunch yesterday before handing them over to K-Fed’s bodyguard, x17on-line.com reported.

It’s not clear whether the scandal-plagued singer knew her precious hours with her sons were numbered.

 And this photo from TMZ.com is just lovely…

Spears Kids

Good luck Spears children. You’re gonna’ need it!

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On Aug. 16, 1977 I was standing outside my junior high school, waiting Elvisfor orientation to begin when a friend told me Elvis Presley had died.  The King. Gone. I’ve never been a big fan of Elvis, although I’ve known many people who were, including my Grandma Elliot.

This picture is the Elvis I grew up on. The Las Vegas Elvis. He was the first celebrity that helped me realize that if you did something really well, women would throw their panties at your feet (in today’s standards that would be thongs, not panties).

So, to honor the King of Rock-n-Roll, here are a few of his more pithy quotes:

The only thing worse than watching a bad movie is being in one.

I don’t know anything about music. In my line you don’t have to.

The world is more alive at night; it’s like God isn’t looking.

Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.

I don’t want to read about some of these actresses who are around today. They sound like my niece in Scarsdale. I love my niece in Scarsdale, but I won’t buy tickets to see her act.

Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity.

Every time I think that I’m getting old, and gradually going to the grave, something else happens.

That last quote cracks me up. Yep, something else happened and it took the King from us at the age of 42, which just happens to be how old I am.  Thankfully, I’m not addicted to any pharmaceuticals – or to bacon for that matter.

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On Thursday nights in my city, in the downtown shopping district, live music can be heard while venturing to and from all the big box chain stores. We were there last night, my son, daughter and myself, back-to-school-shopping at American Eagle. On the way to the store, I had to stop and listen to a local musician do his cover of “Don’t Stop Believin'” by one of the greatest bands ever, Journey. It was entertaining. No matter where you go in the world, audiences listening to this song inevitably know the words and sing along (sometimes loudly).

I have to admit though, I wrote this post on Journey and Steve Perry some time ago and it continues to be one of the most-read posts on my blog.  That’s…a little peculiar in my book.

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My last random thought for today is about death. With the recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis (oops there I go, mentioning that disaster again), a section of a book I’ve been reading has knocked down an old rule of thumb that I’ve always held onto when it comes to death.  My rule of thumb? Avoid death for as long as possible.

The author of this book I’m reading, however, suggests that in order to really live life, we must embrace death. It is, afterall, inevitable. So if we can learn to accept the fact that today we could die, it will enable us to live each day more fully without the worry or fear of dying looming behind our shoulder at all times.

I’m not sure that I’ve bought into this theory entirely. But it is food for thought.

I remember vividly a summer day in my hometown of Spencer, Iowa, when my ultra-religious grandma was visiting. My cousin, who has commented on this blog from time to time, was visiting me as well. We were hot after getting downtown to go to Krazy Days – a big sidewalk sale held every year on mainstreet. But grandma cornered us and was giving us the usual, “Have you given yourselves up to Jesus,” speech.

My cuz and I were coming up with every possible comeback to get through this awkward moment with Grandma as painlessly as possible. Suddenly she caught on and said, “You need to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, because he may come back for us today and you have to be ready.” At that point my cousin said, “That’s fine Grandma, we’ll be born again, but tell Jesus he can’t come until we get a new speedometer for our bike.” 

I loved that speedometer.

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Divers recoveryThe Minneapolis Star Tribune and other news outlets in the Twin Cities are now reporting that divers are recovering bodies from the Mississippi River following last week’s collapse of the 35W bridge near downtown Minneapolis.

After nearly eight full days of searching, the known death toll caused by the bridge failure is now seven people.  Complete profiles of those known dead and still missing can be found on Minnesota Public Radio’s web site. 

Photo: Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Star Tribune and Associated Press report that:

Dave Hayhoe, the police homicide unit commander, announced the recoveries ahead of a briefing on the investigation, the Associated Press reported. He said the bodies were recovered by divers, but gave no other information.

“Right now the first priority is notifying the families,” Hayhoe said.

Five people were known dead in the Aug. 1 collapse, with at least eight more known missing and presumed dead. Crews have been searching in and around the Mississippi River since the disaster for the missing.

The victims weren’t immediately identified.

The list of confirmed missing includes Christine Sacorafas, 45, of White Bear Lake; Vera Peck, 50, and her son Richard Chit, 20, both of Bloomington; Greg Jolstad, 45, of Mora; Peter Hausmann, 47, of Rosemount; Sadiya Sahal, 23, of St. Paul, and her 2-year-old daughter, Hanah; and Scott Sathers, 29, of Maple Grove.

Navy dive teams are assisting local rescue teams with the recovery efforts, providing skills and equipment that enable them to dive lower and more effectively given the tenuous situation of the bridge damage that remains covering a large portion of the river.  The bridge is believed to collapsed upon several vehicles and rests on top of vehicles pinned in the murky river bottom.

Several vehicles have been pulled from the water in the last two days, none of them containing bodies.

The State Patrol said 88 vehicles have been located at the collapse site, including those in the Mississippi River.

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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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