SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - As crews sift through the debris of a partial building collapse in Surfside for a sixth day, the families and friends of the 149 people still missing said they are desperate for answers.
Shelly Angle said her best friend is among those unaccounted for in Thursday morning’s collapse of Champlain Towers’ South condo.
“It’s hard to stay composed,” she said.
Speaking with 7News on Tuesday, Angle said she’s holding on to hope, but the wait is agonizing.
“Everyone’s concerned, not only for my friend, but for everyone, their safety, the glimmer of hope that just maybe somebody survived,” she said.
Others, like Magally Ramsey, said she’s fearing the worst after six days and no word on her mother.
“This is a horrible situation for anybody, but worse is not knowing anything,” she said.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said he is not giving up. He pointed to other instances where survivors have been found in similar situations weeks later.
“The most notable was one from May 2013 where a woman was pulled from the ruins of a factory in Bangladesh 17 days after it collapsed,” he said.
Rescue crews are not giving up either. They continue to work tirelessly.
On Tuesday, a tennis center was transformed into a command center for first responders.
The fence surrounding the courts has been turned into a memorial for the lives lost and the people who remain missing.
Recent college graduate Moises Rodan is among the missing.
“He went to [the University of Florida] to study. He just graduated two weeks ago,” said family member Lizbeth Schonfeld. “His family was here, his parents, and so he just came last week to start a new job that he got.”
Also among those unnaccounted for is Cassondra Stratton.
Her husband said he was on the phone with her early Thursday morning.
“She described that the building was shaking, and then the phone went dead,” he said.
“It’s very, very sad and heartbreaking,” said Laura Hernandez.
Hernandez, a babysitter, said she knows two of the missing: Stella Catarosi and her mother Grasiela.
“I used to hang out with [Grasiela] literally in that tennis court for hours, and we used to talk a lot while the kids were taking a class,” she said.
Burkett shared a story of a girl he met while praying at a family reunification site. Her father is among those still unaccounted for.
“The 12-year-old girl’s name is Ellie Sheva. She lives with her mother, and her father and her uncle were in the building when it went down,” he said. “She just happened to be staying that night with her mother. Normally she goes back and forth.”
While the focus is on search-and-rescue efforts, officials said the families impacted are also a top priority.
“Our new expanded family assistance center has over 20 agencies now offering support, short and long-term counseling, home assistance, travel assistance, psychological and grief counseling, financial assistance, visa and passport support, and much more,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
Officials stress family members will continue to be the first ones to know about any new information.
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