The big disturbing news from yesterday was the building that collapsed in Downtown Sioux Falls. You may have heard about it; it made the national news. I had never been inside the building, but I've driven and/or walked past it a thousand times. The last I heard, they didn't know why it collapsed, but it was nearly 100 years old, and I imagine that might have been a factor. To put into perspective how centrally located the building was, the street that divides Sioux Falls into east and west is Phillips Avenue, and the street that divides Sioux Falls into north and south is 9th Street; the building that collapsed was on the corner of 10th Street and Phillips Avenue, right in the heart of downtown.
There were only two people inside at the time: a woman who lived in an apartment in the building and a construction worker involved with renovating the building. The woman (and her dog) were rescued; the construction worker died before they could get to him. It's a horrible tragedy, of course; I don't want to diminish that in any way. Nevertheless, I think it's important to keep in mind that it could have been so much worse: there could have been more people in the building at the time, it could have been raining or snowing or--God forbid--freezing rain while the rescue efforts were underway. Think about it: it had been raining or snowing almost every day last week, and it's snowing again today; thank goodness it held off yesterday. Even though it wasn't precipitating yesterday, the temperature was still right around freezing. The woman in the building wasn't dressed for winter weather when the building collapsed, and yet--although she sustained some injuries and was hospitalized--she somehow escaped hypothermia (I wonder if it was the proximity of her dog, but none of the reports have been that specific, so I don't know). So yes, it's scary and it's disturbing, and a horrible tragedy for the loved ones of those involved, but there's a lot to be thankful for too.
This morning, I went over to the shiny new indoor aquatic center to do some water walking.[*](We've been trying for years to get an indoor public pool in Sioux Falls, but boy, was it worth the wait; they really pulled out all the stops making it the best it could possibly be.) Now, keep in mind, this is December in South Dakota: the temperature was right around freezing, and though it wasn't really windy, there was enough of a breeze to create a slight wind chill of a few degrees. When I got to the main door of the building, I turned around and saw four or five girls, probably each about eleven or twelve years old, being dropped off from a minivan or suburban. One of these girls--I swear this is true--appeared to be wearing nothing other than a sweatshirt over her swimming suit.[*](And shoes of some kind, I think.)
I was flabbergasted. First of all, why on Earth would a person want to go outside half-dressed in South Dakota in December? And second of all, what parent or caretaker in their right mind would allow a child to do such a thing?!?!?!?! Okay, yes; I'll admit that I sometimes go outside in my shirtsleeves in the winter when I'm only planning to be out for a minute or two; why put on a coat just to take out the garbage, when I'm just going to come right back in? And yes, the swimming pool is indoors--and presumably the car had a heater--so in theory, she would only be exposed to the elements for the 50-foot walk from the car to the door of the building. But still; you never know what can happen. Car accidents can occur. Buildings can collapse with no warning and seemingly for no reason. I'm not saying you have to be paranoid and try to be prepared for every possible eventuality, but for heaven sake, take the common-sense precaution of dressing appropriately for the weather, especially if you're planning to be outside at all!
I'm still speechless about it. I just hope she brought clothes to change into.