Last month, in Surfside, Florida, Champlain Towers South partially collapsed while hundreds of residents and their guests slept. The collapse left many residents homeless and many others dead and injured. Experts demolished the half of the building which was still standing, in order to safely use heavy machinery in the search. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Cava said recovering victims was “moving forward with great urgency.” in order to bring closure to the victims’ loved ones who have spent weeks by the phone waiting for news. Rescue workers from Florida and several other states have worked amid oppressive heat and in dangerous conditions. Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said Friday two crew members suffered injuries while working. One was “cardiac in nature” while the other injury was a laceration that required stitches, he said. Both crew members received medical attention and are in stable condition. “We know that there will be long-term impacts for the teams on the front line,” Levine Cava said. “They have given so much of themselves in these first two weeks.”
Collapse Death Toll Reaches 79
“This is a staggering and heartbreaking number that affects all of us very deeply,” Levine Cava said about the death toll, which has risen to 79. “All those who have passed … are leaving behind loved ones. They’re leaving behind devastated families. The magnitude of this tragedy is growing each and every day,” she said. Levine Cava said 53 people have been identified and 51 sets of loved ones have been notified. There have been 200 people accounted for. Alan Cominsky said taking care of the mental health of first responders is a priority of city officials. Levine Cava said officials have added peer support personnel at the fire stations. The Rev. Juan Sosa of St. Joseph Catholic Church met with other spiritual leaders at the collapse site, where heavy machinery worked in the rubble and mourners left flowers and photos. He said faith leaders hope to bring peace to the grieving families. “I’m hoping that they have some closure as we continue to pray for them,” he said. No one has been found alive since the first hours after a large section of the 12-story Champlain Towers South collapsed on June 24.
What the State is Doing to Help Condo Collapse
“The pile that was originally at four or five stories is now almost at ground level,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said, adding that he was impressed by the recent progress of the efforts. Hope of finding survivors was sustained by emergency personnel after workers demolished the other half of the building. Voids where survivors could have been trapped did exist but no one was found alive. Paraguay’s foreign minister said in a radio report, the sister of the country’s first lady was among those found. “We ask people for their solidarity and a prayer,” he said. “In the face of a tragedy, Paraguayan people must show their traditional solidarity.” State and local officials have promised financial assistance to families of the victims and residents who lost all their possessions. Teams have also developed a procedure for collecting and returning personal items. A cat, named Binx ,was found alive near the site and reunited with its family from the ninth floor. That is one of the bright spots, in an otherwise heart-breaking story.
At least six lawsuits have been filed by families. The collapse has sparked greater scrutiny of condo owners associations. The state of Florida collected $13.7 million in fees from condominium owners associations and other various rentals in 2020. The money wasn’t used for its intended purpose; instead, Florida’s legislature swept $5 million of it into the state’s general fund in a practice that some legislators are questioning heavily in the recent week after the tragedy. Authorities have launched a grand jury investigation into the collapse.
Written by: Erin Malloy