by “Luvable Lutheran”
With some 1200 youth and adults from our Higher Things community having been there, blocks away from an eminent disaster, we thank the Lord for preserving our conference from such harm and danger. At the same time, our hearts go out to those who have been forever affected by this trauma. We ask the Lord of Life to console, strengthen, and bind up wounds with the oil and wine of His Word and Sacrament.
Luvable Lutheran is a regular HT blogger, a student, and works fo a Twin Cities hospital. She also recently served at a FOR YOU and was a member of the conference planning staff for FOR YOU MN. She shares her experience from the first evening of the disaster on her HT blog, which we pass on to you here.
I want to let my family and friends know that I'm safe and okay after today's bridge collapse in Minneapolis near the UMN. Second, I encourage you to pray for those injured, missing, the families of the dead, and those otherwise affected by tonight's terrible tragedy.
Many of you were blocks from this site at the FOR YOU Conference in Minneapolis last week. Perhaps you drove over the bridge on your way to the conference. Perhaps you went jogging or exploring up River Road underneath the span. The conference host congregation is located two blocks away. Perhaps you walked over the 10th Street Bridge and/or 19th Ave during the conference. I myself have traveled the bridge many times to the UMN campus. You may have noticed that the bridge has been undergoing concrete rehabilitation and lanes have been reduced. Yes it has caused traffic headaches and nightmares, but nothing like what folks are dealing with now.
At 6:05 pm this evening during evening rush hour when the two open lanes in each direction were packed with commuters and construction personnel were still working on the bridge, it collapsed. Approximately 50 cars plunged into the Mississippi River and onto the roads and riverbanks below. Unfortunately, at this time 4 people have been confirmed dead and numerous others have been taken to area hospitals. More information will be forthcoming in the press in the days ahead.
I am a graduate student at the UMN and only 24 hours previously was traveling on a parallel bridge to and from campus due to the construction. I noticed the green metal supporting the bridge and thought to myself, why are they just resurfacing the bridge, why don't they replace it? Little did I know what would transpire. I was called into work earlier this week at a local hospital (I'm a temp while in school). Fortunately that kept me from being at campus where events transpired and in the hospital and prepared to help take care of victims if needed. Some of my coworkers began coming back from the dinner breaks asking if we had heard of the bridge collapse.
I was in awe and disbelief. Immediately we went online to get more information. Knowing that cell phones frequently become overloaded and that folks can frequently call out, but not into a disaster scene, I began to make a few phone calls to my family. Fortunately my mom's cable was out and she was unaware of the situation, but asked her to contact my dad. He tends to worry a bit about things and would have the state police looking for me if need be. I also wanted to communicate the events to Sandra and Pastor Borghardt so that prayers could be made at FOR YOU Asheville. I also communicated via Instant Messaging with members of my congregation to make sure that they are all accounted for and let them know that I was ok and at work. Our church president and pastor continued to make sure that the sheep in the flock were safe as a number of members travel over the Mississippi River between their homes and workplace.
As we assessed things at the hospital at which I work, we began to prepare for casualties even though there are a number of other hospitals and trauma centers much closer to the scene (a Blessing in disguise). Our hospital did go into disaster standby mode and was still that way when I left. I am still in disbelief that this happened and have been running on adrenaline most of the evening. Now that I've returned home from work, and with the images on TV, the emotions and the reality of it all has started to set in.
Looking over what transpired, there are a number of blessings and stories that are beginning to emerge. One is that there was a school bus full of 60 kids that fell with a span, but landed over land so they could all safely escape. The center span stayed mostly intact as it fell into the river instead of buckling or crumbling leaving some vehicles on top of the concrete instead of under it. There are a number of vehicles that did end up in the water and some are under the concrete. I just pray their occupants are the ones that the news are reporting that had to be rescued, but are those that are still alive. Another blessing is that a coworker that did show up at the hospital had just left her home blocks away from the bridge and traveled safely over the bridge within an hour of the collapse. How close she came to the tragedy is starting to hit her. Another blessing is that Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), a level 1 trauma center received the majority of the victims since it is within a mile of the collapse. It is well prepared to handle the types of injuries from this incident. In addition two Fairview hospitals, the two next to the dorms used for the HT Conference, are within close proximity for other victims. Other twin cities hospitals also received some victims and are prepared to receive the walking wounded should they show up later. Yet another blessing is that two of the lanes of traffic were already closed in each direction so only half of the total capacity of vehicles that could have been on the bridge were traveling on the spans. This probably prevented the tragedy from being twice as bad and victims being twice as many. Yet another blessing is that storms headed towards the area affected fell apart so that rescue workers didn't have to deal with the rain too.
In addition, I later found out that the conference host congregation shook from the falling of the bridge. The pastor and his wife were there and rushed to the scene, along with several members that lived nearby. They assisted getting the victims to safety. The church even provided shelter for one dazed victim who waited for a ride home. The church has continued to provide facilities for the gawkers, a place of respite for the emergency workers and other services to the community. Thankfully the bridge sections remained stable throughout this rescue effort and the railroad cars that were crushed did not contain hazardous materials.
Recently several victims have been identified and several have gotten the dreaded news that their loved one had died. One was a lady who worked at Thrivent and never arrived home to her husband and two daughters. Another was a father to a two month old that wouldn’t be returning home to his wife that evening. Please pray for these people as they cope with the tragedy that has changed their lives forever this day.
So where is Jesus in all this? Right in the midst of it all. It may seem like a coincidence to some, but God is at work doing his Will as evidenced in the many miracles and blessings mentioned above. After such an intense week at FOR YOU Minneapolis from the height of worship falling down to the low of this tragedy it is hard to believe what a difference a week makes. However, I hope that we all can cling to the hope that we have in Jesus. He went through more on the cross than we ever have to go through, even though this tragedy is still wracking my brain. I pray that people look to Christ and Christ alone for their comfort. Perhaps this event will bring folks closer to Jesus too. I don't know God's Will, but do trust that He guides us to do it each day. I trust the wisdom that God only has and what will result from this incident. Despite all the events, I can rest tonight knowing that God will take care of his baptized children no matter what. What comfort this gives in the midst of chaos!
I also am looking forward to Sunday in the Divine Service where I can sit back and relax, receiving all of God's wonderful gifts including the peace that passes understanding to calm all of our concerns and fears. In the days and weeks above many things will turn back to normal and life will move on. It may be different for some, with a different route to work or school. For others it may be the reality of moving on without their loved one by their side. Thankfully Christ gives us the strength we need to live each day and to continue serving our neighbor, as we pray in the Lord's Prayer, by giving us our Daily Bread. Despite the tragedy, Christ is right there beside us providing for our every need even though it may not be easy. Christ is my sure foundation, even if there are those that are crumbling around me.
Created: August 3rd, 2007