Wednesday, August 01, 2007
The news from Minneapolis
We're changing plans and devoting the program tonight to what appears to be a catastrophic collapse of a freeway bridge in Minneapolis. We know it gave way during the evening rush hour. We can only imagine how many cars and people were on it at the time.

The early pictures are horrific -- crushed vehicles in the wreckage, overturned cars and trucks in the water, a school bus teetering on the edge of a slab of concrete. If you witnessed the accident, send an i-Report or e-mail or write down a comment on this blog.

This story is just beginning. We hope this tragedy has not taken a heavy toll on human life. Our thoughts are with the survivors and the families of this apparent disaster.

-- By Gabe Falcon, "360" Writer
Posted By CNN: 8:25 PM ET
  28 Comments
I heard about this just as I got home tonight. It is so frightening. I can't think of a lot to say-I mean what can I say?- except that my heart goes out to these people and their families. It's just such a tragedy. They will be in my prayers.
Posted By Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 9:10 PM ET
Trying think positively, and hoping that there are not many more casualties one saving grace is that it wasn't a double decker bridge, like when the Loma Prieta Earthquake hit the Bay Area in 1989.

It's so shocking, I can just hope that the search & rescue folks can get people out quickly.
Posted By Betty Ann, Ivyville, TX : 9:36 PM ET
It's just so tragic! I'm on pins and needles waiting to watch your coverage tonight.
Posted By Betty Ann, Bababooey, TX : 9:39 PM ET
Hey Gabe,

My heart just sanked when I saw the images. I hope that the death toll won't rise.
It will be one year in october that five minutes from my house,an overpass collapsed like that. It happened during the week-end,less cars,because during the week,there's always traffic jams there.
But,nonetheless,5 people died,6 were injured. Of the 5 people killed,there was a couple,the woman was pregnant. In the other cars,two brothers and the wife of one of the brother,were going to see their mother who was seriously ill. The three died,the couple leaving a 8years old little boy orphan.
It was shocking and for months,they had to divert traffic. I have to admit that I've developped an uneasiness on bridges and overpasses since then.Too close to home.And the waiting,to see who was stuck under it. It took hours.For the loved ones,it was unbearable.
A commission was ordered,and it end up that the overpass was not put on correctly,and we have hundreds more like it. They are examining every single one of them,closing some to be destroyed,others under high alert. One of them who needs to be fix,is the one I take to and from work every day.
So,I know it's early for you guys maybe to know,but,are there other bridges or overpasses that the city or State should be worried about?
My prayers and thoughts with the families of the victims. And you should have a segment in the following days with a psychologist.It might seem weird,but,by experience,here,a lot of people experienced anxiety and fear of being on bridges or overpasses after the collapse.I'm one of them and not ashamed to admit it. If I'm stuck on it or under it,I breath in,breath out.
Joanne R.
Laval Quebec
Posted By Joanne R.Laval Quebec : 10:11 PM ET
I can't tell you the number of times I've driven over that bridge. I am just stunned.

My hat is off to all the citizens who were at the scene who bravely helped those who needed it and the quick response of the first responders and emergency personnel.

It is so tragic.
Posted By Michelle, St. Paul, MN : 10:12 PM ET
I live in Mpls and I just can't believe my eyes. I was headed towards the bridge but traffic was so bad I got off and went through side streets. THe saving grace is that there has been ongoing construction on the bridge so the normal 8 lane highway was down to 2-4 lanes. This could have been a LOT worse.

This will be something that will impact the Twin Cities for months and months to come, especially in September when the University of Minnesota begins school.

I'm so sad and just can't even comprehend what I am seeing.
Posted By Melissa : 10:35 PM ET
This is such a tragic story. If I did not have a fear of driving over bridges before I certainly would now

Thank you for the indepth coverage this evening on this story. My prayers go to the victims and there families. The suddeness and tragedy of it all is completely heartbreaking
Posted By Megan O. Toronto, ON, Canada : 10:36 PM ET
Was the train which was below one of the collapsed sections, a victim of the collapse or could it have derailed and struck a support column of the bridge causing the collapse?
Posted By Harrabey friedman, Miami, Florida : 10:38 PM ET
Was there also a train traveling underneath the bridge?

From some of the photos it seems as if there was a train crushed by the collapse. Thanks for the coverage
Posted By Liz Toledo, OH : 10:43 PM ET
My thoughts and prayers are with all in Minn. I've been watching and I'm hoping for good news. I hope the weather holds. Thanks for covering the story.
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 10:57 PM ET
Could the collapse have been due to the recent heat or high temperatures?
Posted By Liz Toledo, OH : 11:00 PM ET
Hi Gabe,
This really is horrific. I am watching with great anticipation and prayers for all those involved.
Thanks for your coverage and keep us posted.
Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

P.S. I noticed there was an ironic post from a person by the name of Betty Ann who posted from Bababooey, Tx. I have never heard of that town. You don't suppose they "borrowed" my name and are having fun with the name of my town do you? Lets be careful out there.~
Posted By Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX : 11:21 PM ET
Yes, someone is definitely having fun with my name. TWO post from another betty ann from Texas. NOT FUNNY!
Posted By Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX : 11:24 PM ET
I remember the bridges that collasped during our earthquakes out here in Calif. It's truly a sight that is beyond belief. How such a huge mass of steel and concrete buckles and falls to the ground is just hard to see. I pray for the survivors and those that didn't have a chance. We all grieve tonight as a country.
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 12:08 AM ET
I can not even begin to tell you all how unreal this whole event is. My brothers lived a block from the bridge a couple years ago and I drive over that bridge often. After several calls I have to assume that no one I am close to was near the catastrophy, but my heart goes out to everyone involved. Unfortunately, this is a event that will affect Minneapolis for a long time.
Posted By Heather, Minneapolis MN : 12:12 AM ET
CNN, the most trusted name in news, please look at a map. The 35-W bridge does not connect Minneapolis and St Paul. I35-W never connects Minneapolis and St Paul. It is Minneapolis on both sides of the bridge!
Posted By Mike, Minneapolis, MN : 12:15 AM ET
I live extremely close to the accident and saw the aftermath from the nearby off-ramp. It's unbelievable and hasn't quite settled in. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families as well as all recovery personnel.

Thank you everyone for your concern of this wonderful city.
Posted By Aruna, Minneapolis, MN : 12:48 AM ET
In Washington County PA overpasses on Interstate70 failed due to undectable rebar failure, I pray that this tragic occurrance will wake up DOT. God please help the families of these people.
Posted By pjeckimon : 12:57 AM ET
I have all the victims, (wounded and physically okay) survivors, and families in my prayers.

I hope you can follow up more with the engineer (Mo is his first name, I believe) about his concerns about other infrastucture in jeapordy.

To tie it in to what was SUPPOSED to be tonight's topic (until it got so sadly preempted): How awful that so much money is being spent on a "bridge to nowhere" (hundreds of millions spent on 50 people in Alaska) thanks to a powerful senator pushing for pork when bridges that really need our money go without. Ditto with levees and natural barriers.

I know the New Orleans Times-Picayune had a report about serious concerns regarding the levees and loss of the wetlands (natural barriers) prior to Katrina. Tonight, you mentioned a study from the U of MN that voiced concerns about the bridge. So my question is this: What are the other concerns that are falling on deaf ears?

It was so heartbreaking to see Igor Van Heerden (sp?), the hurricane expert, talk about how he tried to get people to take seriously what he said before Katrina. Similarly, so many of the recommendations of the beautifully bipartisan 9/11 Commission are still not implemented or fully funded. Who else is being treated like Chicken Little but has something important for us to hear?

My mom (an Episcopal chaplain) has a parish out in Long Beach, NY (Long Island). The city of LB is in serious danger if a hurricane hits. I think a cat 3 or 4 (when a major hurricane has been predicted to hit the greater NYC area in the next ten years, and probably sooner rather than later) would put the entire city under 8 feet of water. I spoke to the interfaith council there a few months back about what they can do to help their parishes and those who might need help evacuating prepare (there are a lot of elderly and lower income people in LB). At the end of my talk, I challenged them to come up with a plan, and they took that and ran with it! One week a few weeks back, they all went to their congregations with emergency prep materials and also with a very detailed form I created to gather information on who might need help in a disaster and what specific help they might need. The council has also gone to the city government to try to get them to move on what needs to be done. Even if the local, state, and federal governments were doing all they should in the area of emergency preparedness (in most cases, they are not), it is going to take groups like this-- people from all backgrounds-- coming together for a common cause to make sure we are as prepared as we can be, and that nobody will be left behind to hold onto their rooftops. I am working on ways lower-income people can get prepared (so many things don't even require money, but people feel so overwhelmed by the notion of creating an emergency supply kit).

If you are the member of a community organization, you can urge others to get involved in a similar awareness and preparedness campaign, especially if you are in an area which is at increased risk for a major disaster. And, as my mum's group found out, working together, you have a much stronger voice with which to force those in power to take the needed steps.

For more info on emergency prep: www.redcross.org and www.ready.gov.
Posted By Norah, West Chester, PA : 1:17 AM ET
I heard one of the newspeople saying her brother regularly crosses between Minneapolis and St. Paul and she is worried because they can't get through to him. For her and others who are worried about relatives, please be aware that there are multiple bridges between the two cities. The bridge that fell is the one that goes to the University and northeast suburbs. A lot of people going to St Paul will go across on I-94. (I-35 is a north/south interstate; I-94 is east/west. When I-35 approaches downtown Minneapolis, it combines with I-94 and heads east as it circles the downtown. Then they split right before they each independently cross the Mississippi river. I-35 heads a little toward the north and crosses the river by the U and heads for the northeast suburbs. I-94 heads straight east going through the middle of St. Paul towards its downtown. I don't have any business at the U, so I use only I-94 to go to St. Paul (and I-35 to a suburb). The majority of my friends that live there take I-94 to get home from downtown Minneapolis. While there are many people using I-35 and this is a tragedy for them, I don't want those outside the city to unnecessarily worry about friends and relatives who are unaffected because they travel between the Minneapolis and St Paul on I-94.
Posted By Kate, Minneapolis, MN : 1:29 AM ET
Another nearby bridge has been the subject of news reporting over the last couple of days. They have been considering building "light rail" on the Washington Avenue bridge between the East and West banks of the U. But engineers just issued a report saying that it isn't strong enough to support light rail. The bridge would have to be improved. And there was some whining that the improvements could add to the already high price tag. But I would note that the report also said that the bridge does not even meet current code requirements! So they are concerned about what added weight of light rail. I wonder about the added weight from additional traffic. http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=261072
Posted By Kate, Minneapolis, MN : 1:48 AM ET
I appreciated 360's extended live coverage. You get so used to seeing these situations in the movies that when you're confronted with a real life disaster, it's surreal. Yet, when people act selflessly during real tragedies, it's so much more heroic than anything ever captured on film.

Thinking of the 50 vehicles underwater, that they won't be able to reach until daybreak, is gut-wrenching. It does make me recall Rick Sanchez's demonstration showing how to escape a submerged car. You just never know . . . Living in California, a state with regular earthquakes, I always envision an emergency like this in the back of my mind, but never saw it happening in Minneapolis. Yet, most of the officials I saw interviewed tonight looked surprisingly prepared and calm. I'm sure the relative lack of panic has saved lives.
Posted By Michele Jackson, Northridge, CA : 1:53 AM ET
Dear... Anderson~ Here in south korea.Watching your show, I was dumbfound with astonishment. I was terrified. It was heart-breaking news. It might be the hardest time to USA at this period. Please accept my sincere condolences. May God be with USA in this hour of sadness...
Posted By jung-hae kim, seoul south korea : 2:01 AM ET
Dear... Anderson~ Here in south korea.Watching your show, I was dumbfound with astonishment. I was terrified. It was heart-breaking news. It might be the hardest time to USA at this period. Please accept my sincere condolences. May God be with USA in this hour of sadness...
Posted By jung-hae kim, seoul south korea : 2:02 AM ET
Oh my, this is just a tragedy. I was sitting here at my computer when my dog nudged me to let me know that breaking news was on CNN. Who needs the CNN mobile alerts when my dog is around? I've been glued to the tube all night. Please let us know how we can help.
Posted By Betty Ann, Nachachacha, TX : 2:30 AM ET
My girls and I were coming home tonight from Karate Class. We were coming from St. Paul to MPLS and in front of us was a great shaking and plumes of smoke befor the bridge fell. I slammed on my breaks. We sat there in terror as the bridge just fell.. section after section. Not more than 150 feet seperated us from the canyon it created. After a few moments of shock I Finally I told my girls 7 and 8 to stay put and ran down to the edge to see if I could help.. they were too far from me. People we coming from all over to help.., I had to go back to my car and my young girls. We ended up leaving the car and walking down the highway until we could get off and wait for my husband to come and get us. I wanted to do more but I had my girls with me. There were so many wonderful people there helping eveyone. I just did my best to stay out of the way. I did take a case of water up to the edge for people to drink from the trunk of my car. Still just not enough.
Posted By Catherine K. Minneapolis : 2:47 AM ET
It is obvious from the footage that the bridge is under some major construction. Can that have something to do with the collapse of the bridge?
Posted By Nicolaas, La Quinta, CA : 10:07 AM ET
I'm shocked. My office co-workers are like zombies. I drive over that bridge multiple times a week and I can't tell you how this scares me to think about. It didn't hit so hard until my bus took a side road and drove over the Central/3rd Avenue bridge that parallels the scene of the incident, only a mile or so north. All of the passengers on my bus were silent as they looked at the rubble across the river. We were all so heartbroken at what we saw and the reality of it is so raw. I can only hope that the death toll stays low and that people with unaccounted for loved ones can find them, safe and sound. Minneapolis has suffered a great loss and this will be affecting us for quite some time, not only structurally, but emotionally. I wish there was more I could do to help.
Posted By Heidi : 3:33 PM ET
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