Demolition at site of Surfside building collapse could happen before Tropical Storm Elsa’s impact

DORAL, Fla. – The controlled demolition at Champlain Towers South could happen Sunday evening or Monday morning before Tropical Storm Elsa impacts the weather in Miami-Dade County.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the preparations for the demolition at the site of the Surfside building collapse continued Sunday afternoon.

“A cover is being laid on the part of the debris field that is closest to the building,” Levine Cava said.

Levine Cava paused the search-and-rescue operation Saturday to allow engineers to prepare for the controlled demolition of the ruins of the 12-story building. The time and day of the demolition, at 8777 Collins Ave., had yet to be announced.

The official death toll of the building collapse remained at 24 and there were 121 people who remained unaccounted for.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said the demolition will improve conditions for the search-and-rescue operation to continue. Israeli Col. Golan Vach, a search-and-rescue operations expert, said he no longer believes there are any survivors under the rubble in Surfside.

“We are trying to be hopeful, but realistic at the same time,” Vach said about his conversations with the families of the victims of the building collapse.

Levine Cava said detectives continue to audit the lists. They are also protecting the residents’ belongings, she said.

“Every effort has been made and is being made to save pets in the area,” Levine Cava said.

Miami-Dade Police Department Director Alfredo Ramirez III said there is a team storing and logging the property of the Champlain Towers South residents.

Levine Cava said the collapse area will be confined to the immediate area, but dust and other particles are “an unavoidable byproduct.” She said Surfside residents need to stay indoors during the demolition, close windows, doors, and cover openings.

Edward A. Rojas, Miami-Dade County’s building official, said his team is working on making sure neighboring residents receive notifications about the time and day of the demolition.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Surfside could see some rain and gusts Monday afternoon and Tuesday, as Tropical Storm Elsa moves north.

“It has tracked west over the last day and a half,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis and Kevin Guthrie, the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, asked Florida residents to make sure they are operating generators and chainsaws safely before and after the storm.

“You have to operate that generator so that the exhaust is outside,” DeSantis said.

Jose “Pepe” Diaz, the chairman of the board of Miami-Dade County Commissioners and the commissioner for District 12, said the South Florida Water Management District is taking precautions to prevent flooding.

Charles Cyrille, the division director for the Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency Management, asked Miami-Dade residents to finish preparations for this hurricane season on Sunday evening if possible.

Levine Cava said residents who have questions should call Miami-Dade’s 311 emergency line from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

Michael Putney came to Local 10 in 1989 to become senior political reporter and host of "This Week In South Florida with Michael Putney." He is Local 10's senior political reporter.