On Tuesday, the slow screening of the wreckage of a collapsed apartment building in Florida continued until the sixth day, as families desperate for progress endured painful waits.
The Mayor of Miami-Dade, Daniella Levine Cava, told reporters on Monday: “We have some people waiting, waiting, and waiting for news.” “We let them deal with the fact that they may not be able to let their loved ones live. I still want them to come out alive. They are learning that some of their relatives will come out as part of the body. This is the kind of information that is painful for everyone.”
This work is deliberate and tricky. A thunderstorm swept the area on Tuesday morning. Overnight, debris fell from the broken edge of the part of the building that was still standing to the search area, forcing rescuers to mark the line “Don’t cross here” and focus on the parts, Mayor Surfside Charles Burkett told WSVN to stay away from the debris pile of the building.
Also on Tuesday, the White House announced that President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Surfside on Thursday.
Zhou Yi found two other bodies, bringing the confirmed death toll to 11. This leaves 150 people still missing in the Surfside community outside of Miami.
The authorities often meet with family members to explain what they are doing and answer questions. The mayor said they have discussed everything with their families, from how to perform DNA matching to help identify the dead, how to contact close relatives, to “extreme details” about how they searched the mound.
Crumbling pile of rubble
She said that with this knowledge, the family will draw its own conclusions.
“Some people feel more hopeful, some people are less hopeful because we don’t have a clear answer. We provide them with facts. We bring them to the scene,” she said. “They have seen the operation. They now understand how it works, and they are preparing for the news, anyway.”
Rescuers are using bucket squads and heavy machinery as they work on an unstable mound made of powdered concrete, twisted steel, and remnants of dozens of households. These efforts include firefighters, sniffer dogs, and search experts who use radar and sonar equipment.
The authorities said their efforts are still a search and rescue operation, but no one has been alive since the collapse on Thursday.
The collapse of the building’s crepes left layers of intertwined fragments, which were inaccessible to anyone who might have survived in a small space.
“Every time there is an action, there is a reaction,” Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah said at a press conference on Monday. “This is not a problem. We can connect a few ropes to the concrete boulder, then lift it up and call it a day.” Some concrete blocks are smaller, as big as a basketball or baseball.
On Monday, outside a nearby building, more than two family members watched the search and rescue team excavate the construction site. Some people support each other. Others hug and pray. Some people took pictures.
The authorities insisted on Monday that they had not lost hope.
George Washington University Professor Joseph A. Barbera said the decision to transition from search and rescue operations to recovery operations was painful. He said that this decision is full of consideration and only field personnel can make it.
Barbera co-authored a study of the disasters that some people have survived for a long time under the rubble. He also advised the team where to look for potential survivors and when to conclude that “the possibility of continued survival is very, very small”.
“This is a very difficult decision, I have never made that decision,” Barbera said.
Just days before the deadline for the apartment owners to pay the hefty cost of repairs of more than $9 million suggested nearly three years ago, the building collapsed and the report warned of “major structural damage.”