SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - As the South Florida community continues to gather in support of the affected families of the tragic collapse of an apartment building in Surfside, chaplains are joining the mission and praying for and with family and friends of the residents.
Day two of search and rescue efforts at the collapsed wing of Champlain Towers’ South Tower found crews dealing with rain and a fire that broke out in the building.
The debris removal process comes with heavy lifting, careful canvassing, drone launching and fighting flames.
Friday night, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava provided an update on the search-and-rescue efforts.
“They continue to believe that there are people that they can reach, getting through the crevices, pushing through walls, removing debris safely with the advice of our structural engineers,” she said, “and so we stand with them to get this job done.”
Crews are using sonar, cameras and other equipment to help them in their efforts. They’re also working under the massive pile of rubble.
“We’re continuing to tunnel through the debris, looking for void spaces that may contain some victims that we can rescue,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesperson Maggie Castro.
With heavy-duty materials one would find at a large scale construction site, the area around Champlain South Tower’s collapsed wing remains ground zero for first responders.
Friday afternoon, more K-9 units arrived. Some of the dogs were led around the rubble by Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Capt. Rolando Busto.
“It was overwhelming. You take a second to realize the magnitude of what’s going on, but then we fall back on our training, and we start to work,” he said.
Busloads of men and women from the Urban Search & Rescue South Florida Task Force 2 team also arrived on Friday to provide much-needed backup to MDFR and other responders from across the state.
As crews attempted to find survivors, Rabbi Eliot Pearlson from nearby Temple Menorah and members of the synagogue gathered across the street from the site of the collapse and began what the rabbi described as “an emergency prayer service for the missing members of our community.”
“It hits home, and that’s why we’re here, because many of us feel the need to be here,” said Pearlson.
“Well, it’s a type of a desperation not being able to help and knowing some people in the building,” said Jonathan, a member of the prayer group.
Jonathan joined a number of people outside of Temple Menorah as they prayed.
“I saw the prayer, and obviously, I have to stop and join the prayer with the rabbi,” he said. “We said some Psalms, and we’re hoping, like the rabbi said, for miracles to happen.”
“Not everyone has the need to come here to ground zero. Many of us are praying at home and keeping, in fact, there’s a WhatsApp group that sings Psalms and prayers continuously for the missing,” Pearlson said. “We have a phone tree in our synagogue that’s constantly calling people to make sure that they know that they’re not alone.”
When asked how he makes sense of this tragedy, Pearlman replied, “We don’t have the answer, why, and I will guarantee you, unfortunately — I will put it in writing — bad things are gonna happen in your life. How we respond now makes the difference.”
Those who have missing loved ones should visit the Family Reunification Center at 9449 Collins Avenue or call 305-614-1819.
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