I-35 Catastrophe Hits Home for Somali Community

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Missing Somali woman and child

Saida Adan and daughter, Hana Mohamed, are among those missing since the disaster. Minneapolis' Cedar-Riverside neigborhood is home to thousands of Somali refugees, and is located just beyond the I-35W bridge. Somali Justice Advocacy Center hide caption

toggle caption Somali Justice Advocacy Center

Days after an eight-lane Minneapolis highway went crashing into the Mississippi River during rush hour, rescue workers continue to tally the dead as Minnesotans attempt to make sense of what happened.

This is especially true for the residents of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. The community, just south of the bridge, is home to thousands of Somalis. Minnesota is home to the nation's largest population of Somali refugees, a cultural distinction for the state.

Among the missing are Saida Adan, who is pregnant, and her 20-month-old daughter.

Abdikadir Adan is Executive Director of the Somali Education Center in Minneapolis. According to Adan, the Interstate 35 Bridge is a vital thoroughfare to his community, which spans each side of the collapsed structure.

"The neighborhood of Cedar-Riverside is called the 'Mecca' of Somalis in the state of Minnesota," Adan notes.

The story of Somali life in Minnesota dates back to the early 1990s. In the aftermath of a culturally devastating civil war, millions of people fled Somalia in search of safety. Records indicate that nearly one-third of Minnesota's Somali immigrants came directly from refugee camps.

Citywide, the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood is known to be an active hub for East African culture. Inside its borders, inhabitants depend heavily on the neighborhood's offering of specialized social services.

Many of those who live in Cedar-Riverside find work outside of the neighborhood, representing a sizeable portion of the bridge's roughly 150,000 daily commuters.

Hear the full interview by clicking the "Listen" button in the upper left corner of this page.

Web material written and produced by Lee Hill.



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