MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Two residents of Champlain Towers South are sharing their stories of survival, with one resident describing what he felt inside the building, and one who said his girlfriend wanting to spend more time with him is what saved his life.
Steve Rosenthal said he was woken up when he heard a loud noise and felt his unit shaking. He thought the ordeal could not be real, but he said he knew it was real when dust fell on his face and saw more of it out of his window.
“I was sleeping, and I heard the loudest thunderclap I’ve heard in my life times 100,” he said. “I’m in a dream in California. I’m like, ‘All right, I’m in the middle of it. This is a 1 in 10,000 year earthquake that hits Florida.”
When Rosenthal opened his front door, he saw his hallway had been blocked by debris from the collapse.
“All I saw was cement, rubble, wood, people yelling ‘Help me,'” Rosenthal said. “Praying that the building didn’t fall on me, collapse on me. We had to wait for fire rescue to come up with the ladder. That’s how we got out.”
Rosenthal is not the only survivor who has shared their story.
Last Wednesday night, hours before the collapse, Erick De Moura was walking out of girlfriend Fernanda Figueiredo’s Miami Beach home to head to his condo in Champlain Towers South. However, Figueiredo told him to stay because they do not get spend Wednesday nights together often.
“I was standing right here,” De Moura said just outside of her home. “Without hesitation, I did exactly what she told me. She kept telling me what to do. It’s not like her, and it’s not like me, and when I woke up at 5:30, I understood why.”
She convinced him to have a beer at the dining room table. About four hours later, he checked his phone and found out what had happened to his home and neighbors.
“We talked until 1 in the morning,” De Moura said. “That’s what saved me. It wasn’t about my home. It was about the life that I had there. It’s about the lives that are there.”
De Moura lived in unit 1004. It was destroyed in the collapse, but thanks to the persistent nature of his significant other, he is still alive today.
“The images that I saw looks like some place that had a bomb,” Figueiredo said. “It’s a miracle. When he told me ‘My building collapsed,’ I believed something wrong happened during the building or something broke, but not the whole building on the floor.”
After he saw the damage on TV, De Moura said he had to drive his car to the condo building to see it for himself.
“It’s so difficult to put into words because of the people that are there, but I’m grateful to be alive,” he said.
A total of 20 agencies are offering assistance to families affected by the collapse.
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