Can you say, "Phobia?"

Just last week, on July 26th, I wrote a column about people's fears, taking responses from a survey done by an on-line newspaper. In it, I mentioned that I always felt uncomfortable on bridges or in tunnels, long before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Like most of those people who shared their fears, mine was something I rarely thought about, largely because at this particular point in my life I don't encounter any bridges.

Last night I heard that an interstate bridge spanning the Mississippi River in Minnesota had collapsed under the weight of rush hour traffic, and that a handful of people were confirmed dead and a larger number was missing. This is a nightmare come true for many myself and people who have deep-rooted fears of being suspended high above water and having the ground give way.

Today came the news I expected - that many bridges in the United States are desperately overdue for extensive repairs, including the Tappan Zee Bridge that connects Westchester and Rockland Counties in suburban New York, with the greatest number of bridges needing repairs located in the states of Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

I'm just heartsick at the thought of people driving home from work or to see a baseball game suddenly finding themselves plunging into the waters of the Mississippi. If you've ever seen the this mighty river in person, you'll know that it's a muddy mess, that it's right up there with the alligator-laden, swampy Florida Everglades for just about the worst body of water to fall into. I saw it for the first time during a New Orleans vacation a few years back (pre-Katrina). We crossed it just last month, between Illinois and Missouri and again between Arkansas and Tennessee, with the latter bridge looking a little raggedy to me and causing some uneasy moments.

My prayers go out for those lost, and to their families and friends.

And I pray for the safety of all those who cross bridges every day, and that the repairs will soon get underway.

In view of what occurred yesterday, I don't think that there will be much grumbling about inconvenience.


Gwyneth Bolton said...

I lived in Minneapolis for 4 years and taught at the University of Minnesota. I've been on the phone all day with friends and some of my graduate students seeing if folks are okay. This is just crazy. When I think about the amount of times I have been on that bridge... And I just saw a news report that said that they knew the bridge was in trouble since 1990. All I can do is shake my head...


Donna D said...


The stories I've read have made my heart hurt. There have also been so many stories of those who risked their lives to help others.

I've never been a big fan of crossing bridges in a car (I've seen too many disaster movies and real-life incidents). I know this incident won't allay any of my fears.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims, especially those who are still waiting and agonizing for word of their loved ones.

Patricia W. said...

Let's hope this tragedy gets the attention of local, state, and national legislators. I used to fear the bridges in NY when I commuted between NY and NJ. Now I again finding myself crossing one of two bridges every day. Makes one think twice but without doing distance swimming everyday, I'm not sure how else to get to work.

Trust God.

bettye griffin said...

Good news, all! The number of missing has been drastically lowered from as much as 30 to 8. That is still 8 too many, but it's better than 30.

Thanks for your comments.