SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - A tent city has sprung up near the site of the Surfside partial condo collapse, and all eight of Florida’s task force teams will call the tents home for the days ahead, as they continue their search for survivors.
A typical deployment is 14 days for a task force member, and while they are deployed, they will be housed in a tent city a block south of the collapse.
“They’re working around the clock,” Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said. “They’re working 12 hours at a time — midnight to noon, noon to midnight.”
The condo collapse is the largest non-hurricane Florida task force response in the state’s history. The only other time all eight teams, which consist of around 400 rescuers, were needed for one event was Hurricane Michael in 2018.
“This is the largest ever deployment of task force resources in the history of the state of Florida that’s not a hurricane,” Patronis said.
Lt. Tripp Hansen, who is part of Florida Task Force 4, spoke shortly after his shift concluded at noon.
When asked if anything compared to the site of the condo collapse, Hansen said, “I would say the only thing even closely related to this would be Hurricane Michael.”
Task Force 4 is based out of Central Florida, and like the other seven task forces, it is comprised of hazmat experts, search and rescue teams, structural engineers and rescue dogs. The task force consists of 42 members altogether.
Hansen said the footage broadcasted on TV does not describe what is happening at the site of the collapse.
“You don’t get the smells, you don’t get the dust, you don’t see that, the heat, the humidity, the toll it’s taking on all the guys,” Hansen said.
While rescuers rest from searching for survivors, they will remain inside the tent city until their next shift.
“This came from a camp, and now, we’ve created a city inside of a city,” Patronis said. “They come and they leave their families to come work around the clock. The reward is the lives they save.”
Hansen added the rescuers know there could be many more shifts to come.
“We will go until they tell us not to,” Hansen said.
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