It's a strange and, given the tragic circumstances, unwelcome feeling to see Minneapolis splashed across every newspaper, website, and TV channel. (Has CNN showed anything else in the last day but footage of the bridge collapse?)
I've always resented it when Minnesota is referred to as a "fly-over state," but I'd prefer that insulting, externally imposed anonymity to the sudden notoriety the bridge collapse tragedy has brought us. This is truly an awful time in the Twin Cities.
With so many people still unaccounted for, the news today remains grim, and it's only going to get worse as divers resume their recovery work in the murky Mississippi.
So far, amazingly, none of our friends or family has a direct connection to the disaster. A close friend of ours drove that span just minutes before the collapse, and one of my coworkers was only twenty cars back from the bridge, on her way to a Twins game, when the structure failed. Another good friend works just blocks from the site, but she was safely away at the time of the disaster. Today she described to me the chaos in the area near the bridge.
It seems like my friends and I have reflexively been reaching out to check on each other, and I've spoken to a number of family members who didn't get my "We're okay!" email last night. All day at work I heard people receiving calls from concerned friends and family.
I'm really proud of how well the Twin Cities metro area has responded in this crisis. The disaster response teams in Minneapolis have done amazing work, and ordinary people on the street have accomplished great things, too. I'm not sure I would have had the courage to dash into the waters of the Mississippi to pull people from their cars amid the twisted steel and concrete, but that's a story we have heard repeated many times already.
I feel such sadness today for the families who have already received tragic news, and I can only imagine what it's like for people who are still hoping for news of their loved ones.
In the days after 9/11, I often had sick feeling in my stomach when I saw jets fly overhead. I think a lot of us here feel something akin to that as we zip back and forth across the Mississippi on bridges high above the water. I know that I nudged my car up an extra five miles per hour as I went to work across the Mendota Bridge today. I'm glad I only have for more days of that commute.
I'll be going back to my regular (utterly random) blog-topics after this post about the disaster. Just keep us Minnesota folks in your thoughts.