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Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services at bridge collapse

Remembering the 35W bridge collapse, 10 years later

Added on Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Written by Julie Borgen, Twin Cities Media Relations Director for The Salvation Army Northern Division

It’s a day that many will never forget–August 1, 2007. Just after 6 p.m., the 35W bridge, choked with bumper to bumper traffic, collapsed into the Mississippi River.

Thirteen people were killed that day. Another 145 were injured, including nearly 60 children riding home on a school bus from Waite House, an outreach center in a low-income Minneapolis neighborhood.

IT Specialist at The Salvation Army, survived 35W bridge collapse“There was a big wave of smoke, dirt, dust and cement,” said Dave Scharnhorst (pictured, right), an IT specialist at The Salvation Army, who escaped death or serious injury by mere feet.

His car was on that bridge, just yards in front of others that plummeted into the river below. He was able to drive up off the north edge of the bridge to safety. From there, he helped calm a frantic woman whose car had dropped 10 feet, but amazingly survived with no injuries.

“I wasn’t one of the heroes that pulled people out of wrecked cars,” Scharnhorst said. “But I knew that woman needed me, and I helped her.”

EDS Bridge collapseAs first responders flooded in to help that evening, The Salvation Army came along side them. Our mobile kitchen stayed on the scene for three weeks, with 63 volunteers and many staff members serving nearly 7,600 meals during that time.

The Twin Cities Salvation Army also raised $56,000 for people directly affected by the bridge collapse. Those donations helped survivors make rent and mortgage payments, cover medical bills, utilities, property taxes, and even 24-hour-in-home care.

35 bridge collapseRecognizing the hardships faced by the families of the children injured on the bus, The Salvation Army also gave them each $200 for back-to-school clothes. About 50 Target volunteers helped the children shop at the Lake Street Target store in Minneapolis.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department honored The Salvation Army with a service award.

“This was a shining example of community partners pulling together to serve people during a time of disaster,” said Lt. Col. Lonneal Richardson, leader of The Salvation Army Northern Division. “The Salvation Army has always been a ministry dedicated to lifting people up when they need it most.”

Please join The Salvation Army by volunteering or making a donation to help your local community.