5 years later, I-35W Bridge collapse is still fresh - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

5 years later, I-35W Bridge collapse is still fresh

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Five years after the I-35W bridge collapse, the memories are still vivid, as though it happened yesterday. It wasn't just the metro area that came together as a community to help the victims, it was volunteers from across the state. In fact, most of us remember exactly where we were when we heard the news of the bridge collapse.

Governor Mark Dayton requested that all flags be flown at half staff on Wednesday to honor the victims. The flags take one local red cross volunteer back to the sites and sounds of that day.

Rush hour in the twin cities August 1, 2007, a bustling I-35W bridge would collapse. Immediately volunteers scramble to help the victims.

"I was sent up to assist the families who were waiting for news about family members that were missing, presumed to have drowned or been killed," explained Melanie Tschida, with Rochester's American Red Cross.

Tschida was at the scene of the disaster for days on end.

"As odd as it sounds, I was so glad to hear that all of the people had been found. That there wasn't any families left wondering had their family member somehow escaped and or had amnesia in a hospital somewhere, those are the things that you hear," stated Tschida.

Thirteen people would lose their lives that day. A memorial near the bridge honors them as well as the survivors. Tschida said she'll always think of those who didn't make it across the bridge.

"Whenever I'm up in the Twin Cities for work or for pleasure as I drive over that bridge or if I'm in that neighborhood where I worked for several days I think of it. The people that I met and the experience was just so powerful that it'll be with me forever, I'm sure," explained Tschida.

A devastating phenomenon that brought strangers together, connecting them through a common experience, the fateful bridge collapse.

Despite the terrible tragedy, some positive legislation has come from it. The federal government ordered more frequent bridge inspections, requiring the structures to be inspected every two years instead of four.

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