Horror. Horrific. Horrible. Strong words. Emotional words. Yet still not strong enough to convey the shock and pain and death that follows the collapse of the interstate bridge spanning the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.
California. The destruction looks like something you would expect to see in California after an earthquake. California. But it was here in Minneapolis.
Troubling information: a 2005 assessment called the 40-year-old span "structurally deficient" and it was a candidate for replacement according to the Minneapolis Star. A word of caution, the Star-Tribune site loads very slow. Probably slower now with all the interest.
Speaking of news outlets, both CNN and the NY Times were mistaken when they said the bridge linked Minneapolis to St. Paul. Not so. There are many bridges across the Mississippi connecting the Twin Cities, but this was not one of them. Upon entering Minneapolis, Interstate 35 splits into 35W and 35 E and reconnects on the north side of town, much like I-35 around Denton, Tx. This bridge connected north and south Minneapolis on the way to the cabins and lakes Up North.
You can keep up with official engineering info at the Minnesota Department of Transportation site.
We live about two miles from the bridge and would use it often, trusting the steel and concrete to protect us high above the big river.
Two images stand out: The little white car perched on the slab of cement, hanging on for dear life despite the perilous angle. And the resolute woman rescue worker in the water without snorkel, masks, or tanks who repeatedly dove beneath the dark Mississippi to search for survivors in submerged, crushed vehicles.
Like you, we've been glued to the TV, the Internet and the morning newspaper worried about casualties and searching for answers.
Thus far, the only answers are: Horror. Horrific. Horrible.