BAL HARBOUR, Fla. – Six days after the devastating collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, family members of victims are voluntarily being taken to the site of the tragedy, as well as being helped at a new location for family briefings.
On Monday, a line of buses left the Grand Beach Hotel in Surfside and took family members to the Seaview Hotel in Bal Harbour, home of the new site of the daily family briefings held in private with officials.
Also on Monday, a vigil was held, where more than 200 people, mostly strangers, joined hands on the sand. Here, they held a prayer vigil for the families struggling to stay positive.
“I can feel the pain that the family is carrying,” said a vigil attendee.
Back at the site of the collapse, family members who had not been before were taken in busses to see it for themselves.
“I have not lost any hope or faith,” said Martin Langesfeld, the brother of 26-year-old Nicole Langesfeld, who is still missing along with her husband, Louis Sadovnic.
The newly married couple lived in unit 804 of Champlain Towers South
“I know she’s still there,” said her brother. “I know it. Keep fighting baby girl… keep fighting, we’re waiting for you.”
For family members of the victims, just being as close as possible to the tragedy is enough to help them process their emotions and exactly what is going on.
“They were able to, some of them, just kind of feel like they were closer to their family members,” explained Maggie Castro of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. “For some of them, they saw what they needed to see to perhaps start processing information that has been difficult to accept up to this point.”
Unfortunately, as it is day six in the rescuers’ search and rescue mission, families are growing tired, and their faith is being tested.
“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.”
Thankfully, help for these families has been coming in from all over the world, including from a specialized trauma group from Israel who can help the families as much as possible.
“The waiting, the not knowing, leads to that sense of helplessness,” explains Rachel Poch of the United Hatzalah Psychological Trauma Unit from Israel.