Thursday, August 02, 2007

We're OK

Perhaps this is as good a way as any to let you all know that we are all OK and weren't hurt by the collapse of the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi last evening. (The last person in my office who we knew might have been on it just called; he passed over it five minutes before it fell.) We live less than two miles from the bridge, though, and often bike or drive under it on the River Road, especially when we go to Twins' games, so it is not an entirely remote or abstract thing to us. But last night we were eating dinner at 6:05 with some friends and learned about the collapse about an hour later when a friend of Youngest Daughter called. We were just a little startled because three of us are planning to drive to northern Minnesota today and would have been crossing the bridge this evening almost exactly 24 hours after it collapsed.

Almost certainly, the death toll will rise from the seven confirmed (five, says the newspaper) as divers are able to get under the collapsed roadway sitting in the river. The Mississippi has been very low because of the terrible drought -- barely at the nine foot minimum necessary for barge traffic -- and it is likely that the roadway deck that looks like it's floating on the river is in fact resting on the river-bottom on its trusses, and there are probably some cars trapped under there. The real miracle is that there weren't more deaths or serious injuries, considering how some people fell 40 or more feet.

The mood in the city is one of shock, as far as I can tell. A woman on the radio last night said she went immediatly in to "do"-mode and I think that captures it. Everyone just seemed to take up whatever task at hand needed to be done, from swimming out to help people out of their cars to redirecting traffic away from the rush hour snarl. I was most impressed at how many people, many of them U of M students, came out and helped people get out of their cars, out of the water. Eventually, the number of volunteers (supplemented by curious gawkers, I suppose) became a problem, interfering with the professional ambulance and other first responder work. We resisted the temptation to bike down because of this.

Thanks to those of you who have already written or called asking; it's nice to know that there is a web of friends around the world who think of each other at times like this.

Photos from StarTribune


Peggy Senger Parsons said...

thanks for posting,
it was the first place I looked this morning.

David Carl said...

Glad to hear you are safe.

Laura said...

Thanks for posting. You and several other Twin Cities Friends that I met at Gathering were on my mind last night.

Linda said...

Thanks for posting and alleviating our worry.