It's been more than a week since the Champlain Towers South building collapsed in Surfside, leaving 24 dead and many more unaccounted for. As time passes, officials struggle to make the next best move for recovery with added complications.
Demolition of the Building Deemed Necessary
Florida officials have announced the necessary demolition of the rest of the building. With Tropical Storm Elsa set to reach Florida next week, they believe the standing portion of the building needs to be brought down entirely before it gets blown down by damaging winds. Demolition is expected to begin this weekend and be completed within about 36 hours.
While the reasons behind this decision are understandable, it comes as another blow to survivors who had to leave everything behind inside the building. Since its collapse, no one has been allowed back inside the building to retrieve belongings because it's been too dangerous. Now, with the demolition, what once seemed like a possibility to eventually gathering one's possessions is now a definite impossibility.
Gov. Ron DeSantis explained, “It's structurally unsound...At the end of the day, that building is too unsafe to let people go back in. I know there's a lot of people who were able to get out, fortunately, who have things there. We're very sensitive to that. But I don't think that there's any way you could let someone go back up into that building given the shape that it's in now.”
Controlled Demolition Inc. will be the company to bring down the rest of the building with explosives. They will be working carefully in tandem with the efforts of the search and rescue team.
Search and Rescue Progress
Though survivors were able to escape the building, no additional survivors have been found yet from the search and rescue crews. The process has not been easy due to the condition of the building. It has been difficult for teams to fit through small spaces as they try to make their way into hidden areas of the building. The heavy concrete layers are challenging to move, and the stability of what is left of the building is questionable. In the past week, there have been complete pauses until conditions proved to be safer for those involved.
Search and rescue teams have been sent in from the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Though challenging, many refuse to give up hope, recalling incidents where survivors were found days later after buildings collapsed in Mexico and Haiti. Ken Pagurek, the leader of Pennsylvania Task Force 1, said, “I'm not going here right now with the hopes of finding victims — we're going down there with the goal of finding survivors. I still think there's a slim chance. A slim chance is better than no chance.”
North Miami Beach Condo Evacuated
Miami-Dade County is now re-evaluating the safety of other older buildings. Mayor Daniella Levine Cava called for a 30-day audit of all structures that are oceanfront, 40 or more years old, and within county jurisdiction. One condominium complex has already been ordered to evacuate in North Miami Beach. A report on Friday showed issues concerning structural integrity and unsafe electrical conditions. Out of extreme caution, all tenants were forced to evacuate the 156-unit building. A full assessment will be done for the building before residents are allowed to return. Meanwhile, initial investigations into the collapse from last week show signs of a possible fatal flaw: less steel reinforcements may have been used at the base of the building compared to what the original design layout required. Investigations will be ongoing and may take up to several months to get official answers.
How to Find a Missing Loved One
The Miami Herald is gathering the names and stories of those who have been reported missing after the building collapse as well as those who have been confirmed as deceased. You can search by name and filter the missing and the recovered. The Herald will keep updating this list. Please send information to [email protected] or [email protected].
The Miami Herald also provides information for those who may need grief support:
Florida Blue, along with New Directions Behavioral Health, is offering a free 24-hour-a-day grief counseling help line for those in need of support following the Surfside collapse. Callers will be connected to trained professionals, who can help people experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, trauma and grief. Anyone in Florida is eligible and insurance is not needed. The help line, which also offers bilingual emotional support, can be reached at 833-848-1762.
Assistance for Displaced Residents:
There are several resources for ways you can help. Additionally, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation has also been directed to begin actively working with landlords in Miami-Dade to find rental vacancies for any displaced residents of the condo complex in Surfside.
Displaced residents can use FHFC's rental locator at https://www.floridahousingsearch.org/ or call 1-877-428-8844 if they are unable to access the website.
Your Next Steps if You are a Survivor of the Surfside Collapse
Tragedies like this are hardly ever expected, but it doesn't mean you don't have the right to compensation for your loss. Contact us at Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh today to set up a consultation to discuss your needs. We stand with the victims and families affected by this unspeakable tragedy. Let our legal team help guide you in this process today so that you can be on a better path tomorrow for you and your family.