Friday, August 3, 2007

Minnesota Bridge Disaster: Front Page News in Alexandria, Minnesota

The 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis made the front page of the Echo Press today. That's Alexandria, Minnesota's newspaper.

The front page story was under the fold - on the bottom half of the page - and with no picture, but on the front page nonetheless. A sidebar to the article talked about the burst of cell phone traffic, as folks in this part of the state touched base with friends and kin in the Metro area.

(The Alex paper is pretty important to this family, when it comes to news from outside Sauk Centre. Alexandria is the nearest larger town, 20 miles up the Interstate. At about 8,000 population, it's roughly twice the size of Sauk Centre, where I live.)

The extended family that I'm a part of added a little to the communication overload, although what my wife did was call her father, who lives in town, to see how everyone was. At this point, his home is a sort of headquarters for the family.

The Alex paper's Friday edition has a photo of the mess on page three of their "A" section, part of an article on how folks in this area can help. Most of it's very local: important, but if you're that close to Alexandria, MN, odds are that you'll have seen the paper already.

For anyone in Minnesota's Metro area, here's what I posted on another site on Wednesday: I've heard that they're going to need blood. In case you're in the Metro area, interested, and able, here are some places to donate: Memorial Blood Centers / Where to Donate: Twin Cities Locations

The Red Cross Twin Cities Chapter says that eligible donors can "call 1.800.GIVE.LIFE" (1.800.4483.5433) "or go online to to learn more about blood donation and to make a blood donation appointment. A blood donor card or driver's license are required at check-in. Donors must be at least 17 years old and must weigh at least 110 pounds."

I'll add another link today: American Red Cross Twin Cities Chapter. That site was alternately very slow to respond, or not responding at all on the night of the disaster. The Red Cross TC home page has a link to, where people who were in the area can register as being alive and walking, and where family and friends can search the list of those who have registered.

Two Metro area television stations are doing a decent job of covering aftermath of the bridge collapse, KMSP and KSTP.

One item that's half-way into the news that I read is what happened with the Twins game at the Metrodome, on one end of the 35W bridge. The folks running decided to keep the game going (that's been in the written news that I saw) because they didn't want all those fans driving out of the Metrodome before Minneapolis law enforcement had a chance to set up some sort of traffic control for re-routing a few thousand cars. The last part was on radio news in this area, I understand.

I've already heard a Minnesota politician say something guardedly stupid about the collapse. There's probably going to be quite a bit more as election time comes up.

Finally, I've been very glad to see how folks around the bridge collapse handled the catastrophe. KMSP said that many "were asking police if there was anything they could do to help." "They thanked us for the sentiment, but said there wasn't much we could do right now," KMSP quoted a woman as saying. She'd walked a few miles from where she lived to the disaster area.

Then, there's the security video footage of the bridge collapse. It shows the bridge breaking and falling, then a young woman with a cell phone running away from the bridge. She was making pretty good time, and I don't blame her. Maybe two beats later, she was trotting back toward the bridge, cell phone still held to her ear. My guess is that she was going to see if she could help.

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