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Family members of those still missing at Surfside visit site of collapse

Family members and friends are invited to view the site of Surfside collapse.
Family members and friends are invited to view the site of Surfside collapse.

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Miami-Dade County buses shuttled loved ones including friends and family members of those still missing to the site of the Champlain Towers South building collapse on Monday. A set of buses also transported people to the site on Sunday.

There, they could see the rubble and the work that was happening there for themselves

Search and rescue crews said they are having what they’ve called “frank conversations” with those families being straight forward with them, but trying to continue to instill a bit of hope.

“The chances of us finding someone alive is diminishing with every hour that passes, but we’re always going to remain hope and we are still in a rescue mission,” said Miami Dade Fire Rescue Task Force Member Maggie Castro. Obviously it was a very emotional time for the family as you would expect it to be.”

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Castro said the families have been given their privacy during the visits to the site.

“They were able to, some of them, just kind of feel like they were closer to their family members. For some of them, they saw what they needed to see to perhaps start processing the information that has been difficult to accept up to this point,” said Castro.

Inside the family reunification site at the Grand Beach Hotel, families are working with volunteers like Raphael Poch, part of a specialized psychological trauma unit from Israel.

“There’s an incredible amount of relief organizations. I counted 20 yesterday, but I believe there’s more and a team from Mexico just came in now also so people are coming from all over to try and help out. It’s a beautiful thing,” said Poch of the United Hatzalah Psychological Trauma Unit.

Poch said the crews are guiding families as best as they can and making sure that they are feeling productive so they aren’t consumed by grief.

“We’re using a lot of tools and techniques we’ve developed. The most important thing is to alleviate the sense of helplessness,” said Poch.

The mayor of Surfside Charles Burkett said he continues to remain hopeful. “I’m expecting miracles, I’m looking forward to that. We’re praying every day, every minute, and we’re not stopping.”


About the Authors:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.