SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - One of the families struggling after the Surfside condo collapse was given what they called a miracle on Friday: their cat was found alive two weeks after the tragedy.
Binx, who lived in unit 904 of the Champlain Towers South with his family, had been missing since the overnight collapse, June 24.
The black cat was found wandering around the collapse site and a good Samaritan picked him up and brought him to a rescue center in Miami Beach.
“In the middle of this sadness, we were hoping for good news either for any survivors or any pet,” said Maria Gaspari, an animal advocate and a friend of the cat’s owners. “As you may know, pets are family, and this is a miracle. I’m shaking right now.”
Binx’s discovery comes as Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed crews recovered 15 victims on Friday, including a 3-year-old boy. The death toll currently stands at 79.
“This is a staggering and heartbreaking number,” she said.
Crews continue to dig through debris day and night.
“They’re burning the candle at both ends,” said Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett.
The work is grueling and dangerous. Officials said two first responders were taken to the hospital in the past 24 hours. Both are expected to be OK.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials said several firefighters suffered some dehydration on Friday.
The recovery teams face an enormous challenge, but officials said they are making progress.
“The debris pile itself is dramatically being reduced,” said Burkett.
In some areas, they have reached as far as the second floor.
Friday night, the pile of debris was moved fully onto Collins Avenue, all the way to the West.
Amid the sadness, Binx’s discovery has brought a little nugget of hope.
The furry survivor belongs to the Gonzalez family. Angela and Deven Gonzalez were seriously injured in the collapse and remain in the hospital. Edgar Gonzalez remains missing.
The Gonzalez family lived in unit 904, which was sheared in two when part of the tower fell.
Binx either survived the collapse or escaped what was left before the rest of the building was brought to the ground in a controlled demolition.
Gaspari said finding Binx alive was a miracle.
“That’s actually Deven’s cat, so I’m sure she’s going to be over the moon knowing that they found her cat,” she said. “I just can’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it when we received the confirmation. This is a miracle for the whole Surfside community.”
Levine Cava echoed Gaspari’s comments.
“I’m glad that this small miracle could bring some light into the lives of a hurting family today and provided a bright spot for our whole community in the midst of this terrible tragedy,” she said.
In another positive development, members of the Israeli delegation honored MDFR Assistant Chief Ray Jadallah by giving him their stripes off their uniforms in a show of unity and support during a ceremony held Friday evening.
Kitty Campus, Operation PAW and SoBe cats have worked together to save Binx and reunite him with his family.
“It’s a little sunshine for the family,” said Gaspari. “It’s good news in the middle of all this craziness and all this sadness. It brings hope, and we need that.”
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