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Miami-Dade mayor juggles hurricane preparation, building collapse aftermath

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava was receiving updates Friday evening about Hurricane Elsa in the Caribbean, the search-and-rescue operation at the site of the Surfside building collapse, and the ongoing building inspections.

In Surfside, Levine Cava said during an afternoon news conference that she had approved the demolition of what remained standing of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condominium. She made the decision with the recommendation of Federal Emergency Management Agency engineers, as it poses a safety threat.

“Signing the order is important so that it can help us move quickly, as soon as we decide the best methodology to demolish and the specific start date,” Levine Cava said. “Our top priority remains search and rescue.”

The death toll in Surfside rose to 22. Levine Cava said there were 126 people unaccounted for. One of the victims was 7-year-old Stella Cattarossi, the daughter of a 10-year veteran firefighter of the Miami Fire Rescue Department.

After the building collapse, Levine Cava ordered a review of all residential buildings to make sure these are in compliance with Miami-Dade County’s 40-year recertification process. On Friday, about 300 residents at the Crestview Towers Condominium in North Miami had to evacuate after an inspection.

“They found a building that had not been recertified,” Levine Cava said.

Levine Cava also urged Miami-Dade County residents to prepare for Elsa and the hurricane season. She asked residents to avoid procrastinating to make sure that they have all of the supplies needed to protect themselves and their homes.

“We are not just running an emergency response, but we are also preparing our whole community for a possible storm,” Levine Cava said.

Charles Cyrille, the division director of Miami Dade County Emergency Management, said residents need to finish preparations by Sunday night.

The National Weather Service has a presence at the site to provide up-to-the-minute updates on Elsa, a tropical storm that strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane as it approached Haiti and Cuba.

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About the Authors:

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.