Twenty five years ago the Oklahoma City bombing took the lives of 168 people. The building collapse in Surfside, Florida appears set to mark a death toll with only about 20 fewer lives lost. And it was pretty clear from day one that the tragedy was heading in this direction.
Of course, the lack of any malevolent bad guy (as opposed to quite possibly negligent players) behind the collapse changes how we view the event. But the public perception and reaction to it have also certainly been shaped by the initial reports that “at least one” person had died. At least outside the community itself it took days for the reality of how many were “missing” to sink in. Even now there are only a couple dozen confirmed fatalities.
This is not criticism of the reporting. No one did anything wrong. There is absolutely no rush to confirm or assume someone’s father or mother or child is dead before it’s absolutely certain. Still, this peculiarity baked into the tragedy has deeply shaped perceptions of the scale of the horror. After hours of groaning and shaking a building collapsed in a series of shocking moments and close to everyone died.