SURFSIDE, Fla. – It has been an excruciatingly agonizing wait for the families of the victims of the building collapse in Miami-Dade County’s town of Surfside. On Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis went to meet them at the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside.
Their nightmare began after the northern section of the 12-story Champlain Towers South pancaked at 8777 Collins Ave., and they couldn’t reach their loved ones. The search-and-rescue operation has been delicate.
Crews have been working overnight, through the rain, and even at the risk of spontaneous fires. Officials said they are doing their best to provide regular updates at the hotel. Still, some relatives are losing their patience.
“It’s not enough,” a distraught mother told DeSantis. “Imagine if your children were in there. You are going to leave here and you are going to take a nice picture. I know you are doing everything you can, but it’s not enough.”
Magally Ramsey’s mother, Magally Delgado, 80, is among the 156 who remained unaccounted for as of Saturday evening. She lived on the 9th floor.
“It’s really difficult for some families regardless to hear that because people want to start understanding where those victims are regardless of what that outcome is,” Ramsey said.
She said she hasn’t lost hope.
“It’s not necessarily the logical outcome. Right? So, it won’t be the logical outcome,” Ramsey said. It’ll be a miracle, but I’m a woman of faith, so I believe in miracles so you know I still hold out for hope.”
The Miami-Dade Police Department released on Saturday evening the identities of four of the five people who officials confirmed have died after the building collapse. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said there were still 156 people who were unaccounted for.
The death toll will continue to rise. Search-and-rescue teams found a body and human remains in the rubble on Saturday, and the Medical Examiner’s Office had yet to identify them when the police made the announcement.
Stacie Dawn Fang was the first victim to be identified. The 54-year-old mother lived in apartment 1002. Search-and-rescue personnel pulled her out of the rubble early Thursday morning, but she died on the way to Aventura Hospital & Medical Center.
Fang’s 15-year-old son Jonah Handler survived. Rescuers pulled him out of the rubble early Thursday morning after a neighbor heard him screaming and saw his hand extended out of a rift in the darkness.
Manuel “Manny” LaFont was a 54-year-old father of two who lived in apartment 804. Search-and-rescue personnel recovered his body on Friday.
Family reunification center
The town is hosting those who are waiting for information about unaccounted relatives at the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside, at 9449 Collins Ave. Levine Cava said there are two daily briefings for relatives.
For information or to report the status of a loved one who is unaccounted for, call 305-614-1819 or 305-993-1071.
Coverage on Saturday
Coverage on Friday
Coverage on Thursday