You guys, I don’t know, Friday posts just might become the new Thursday posts here in TALC. Friday fits better with my new schedule. I don’t work out on Friday evenings, and I don’t have to get up early for work the next day. It’s Friday night and I’m sitting here writing this without any time-related stress. It’s nice. I’m digging it.
Back to what I was writing, though. I was telling you about Wednesday.
Sirens blared and warbled down the street as I got ready for work on Wednesday morning, which wasn’t unusual. They didn’t stop, though. It was one emergency vehicle after the other for what seemed like a long time, and they sounded pretty close. Not a garden-variety shooting, I remember thinking.
Turns out that the Union Pacific train that crosses over our lake (Tempe Town Lake) on our old UP railroad bridge derailed and went up in flames while a section of the burning bridge collapsed and fiery wreckage spilled into the water, an apocalyptic disaster that ended up in the international news.
2020, just stop, please, will you. FFS.
This happened less than a mile from home. The endless sirens were indeed loud.
It’s sad; this is sad for Tempe and for Phoenix Metro, in general. That Union Pacific rail bridge was as historic and iconic as our mill. On our walks, we’d go to the lake and its bridges and through the areas around it. I took pics along the way as we went on our “pandemic walks” back in April:
Walking along Rio Salado on April 6, 2020. The old brown bridge in the foreground is the UP railroad bridge that collapsed.
RIP, old bridge. I’m glad I took these pics of you.
The railroad bridge is the one in the background in this pic as we walked under from the opposite direction.
Here’s what the site looked like on Wednesday:
[Pic from the web the day of the disaster, Wednesday, 29 July 2020]
I took my pics at the spot on the right where the derailed train landed, behind that bush where the newer, geometric-design bridge visually intersects with the old UP railroad bridge.
Walking along Rio Salado on April 6, 2020. The old brown bridge in the foreground is the railroad bridge that collapsed.
So I drove to work that morning under a dark haze without knowing what it was, just thinking that today might be the day we’re finally going to get our first storm of monsoon season. I didn’t learn the reason for the dark sky until a co-worker told me about the disaster a few hours later.
Tempe is still busy with clean-up. The FBI is investigating. Union Pacific is saying they’ll rebuild our bridge. We’ll see what happens.
Thankfully, no one was seriously injured on the scene of the accident.
There were the chemical leaks, though. The train’s damaged cargo included 500 gallons of cyclohexanone, and it spilled in the disaster. There were also chemicals from burning rubber, and maybe more from who knows what. I don’t doubt for a minute that there were airborne particles of these chemicals hanging in our atmosphere that day, and of course my mind goes immediately to the possibilities.
Such as, the sequel to this story could be a Kafka-esque nightmare in which we local residents mutate into supervillains or zombies due to the toxic plume of smoke that rose above our section of town in the disaster. 2020 being what it’s been, I actually wouldn’t be surprised if NW Tempe becomes the epicenter of the zombie apocalypse.
As if the challenges presented by the virus aren’t massive and daunting enough.
It’s good that we’re all wearing masks outside of our houses. They might protect us from more than just the virus.
We’re on the eve of August and we’re well into monsoon season, but we still haven’t had our first storm. Too bad it wasn’t pouring rain on Wednesday morning.
Happy WEEKEND eve, my friends.