SURFSIDE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis was standing in a large room at the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside on Saturday when an official said search-and-rescue teams had found human remains. A group of relatives started sobbing.
A distraught relative stood up in front of a group of relatives and she faced the group of officials. Crews have been working overnight, through the rain, and even at the risk of being trapped in one of the many spontaneous fires.
“It’s not enough,” the relative 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.”
Facing the pancaked concrete in front of an unstable structure has been a tedious and delicate process for a team of experts. And the last few days have been an excruciatingly agonizing wait for the families of the victims.
DeSantis sent a statement to Local 10 News in response to this story, which read, in part:
“As a father, Governor DeSantis sympathizes with the devastating pain these families are feeling as they await news about their missing loved ones. Any of us would feel the exact same way in this tragic situation.
“Miami Dade County has some of the best First Responders in the world. They responded within minutes of the collapse and their rapid response saved lives. They’ve continued for the last 3 days around the clock, in dangerous conditions, to find the missing.”
DeSantis’ full statement can be read at the bottom of this story.
The families’ nightmare began after the northern section of the 12-story Champlain Towers South crumbled shortly before 2 a.m. on Thursday at 8777 Collins Ave. Magally Ramsey’s mother, Magally Delgado, 80, 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, adding that she hasn’t lost hope that there could be “a miracle.”
On Saturday evening, the Miami-Dade Police Department released the identities of four of the five people who officials confirmed died after the building collapse. They were Stacie Dawn Fang, 54, Antonio Lozano, 83, Gladys Lozano, 79, and Manuel “Manny” LaFont, 54.
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.
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.
Gov. DeSantis’ full statement:
As a father, Governor DeSantis sympathizes with the devastating pain these families are feeling as they await news about their missing loved ones. Any of us would feel the exact same way in this tragic situation.
Miami Dade County has some of the best First Responders in the world. They responded within minutes of the collapse and their rapid response saved lives. They’ve continued for the last 3 days around the clock, in dangerous conditions, to find the missing.
In an emergency like this, the first response is always at the local level. The state (DEM) direct deployment was at 2:30 AM Thursday. Governor DeSantis called the local mayors first thing in the morning and went down to Surfside as soon as possible on Thursday to make sure Miami-Dade County has everything they need from the state. An hour after Mayor Cava signed the county emergency declaration Thursday afternoon, Governor DeSantis signed an emergency declaration to ensure the state could access federal assistance, once it was determined that assistance could be used to help victims of this disaster.
The mother in the video asked for Israeli teams to be allowed to help with the search and rescue effort. This is now happening.
The Governor spoke with the Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister yesterday afternoon(after Shabbat concluded in Israel) to thank them for offering support. The IDF team arrived in Surfside this morning.
The state of Florida is absolutely not standing in the way of any assistance from Israel. The search and rescue effort is overseen by Miami-Dade County, and firstname.lastname@example.org will have more information on their involvement and role on the ground. We appreciate their willingness to stand alongside local first responders.
Governor DeSantis has met with families at the assistance center in Surfside several times since the tragic building collapse. These briefings are organized by the mayor of Miami-Dade County, which is overseeing the disaster response. The Governor has been at the incident response site for the past three days to ensure Mayor Cava and other local authorities have everything they need from the state and federal government.
Coverage on Saturday
Coverage on Friday
Coverage on Thursday