SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - The walls of the Surfside Tennis Center has been turned into a memorial for those who remain missing and who have died in the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South.
The once bustling tennis courts filled with families and children has been draped with flowers and photos of those who were inside of the building when it collapsed last Thursday. The courts are also home to first responders, and their boots and wet clothes could be seen hanging on the net.
“It’s too much,” Efren Romero, who lives nearby, said. “This is way too much. I’ve never seen this before.”
Laura Hernandez works as a babysitter, and the children she cared for used to play with Stella Cattarossi, so she used to spend a lot of time with her mother, Graciela Cattarossi.
“It’s very, very sad and heartbreaking,” Hernandez said. “It’s super hard. I have cried several times, and I told her ‘Let’s go’ because I used to hang out with her literally in that tennis court for hours. We used to talk a lot while the kids were taking the class.”
She also cared for Stella when her mother needed help.
“She was a super quiet girl, beautiful face and super close to her mom,” Hernandez said. “She was a single mom, so they were very close.”
The Cattarossis lived in apartment 501 at Champlain Towers South. Graciela’s parents were also there, along with her sister, Andrea. All five have been reported missing.
“I hope they were together and hugging each other, and I hope God is with them already, and they’re just, like, happily ever after, and they didn’t suffer,” Hernandez said. “That’s what I pray for, you know? Actually, I feel that maybe in September I’m going to go back with the kids, but Stella and Grace are not going to be there. It makes my heart break.”
It remains unclear if the memorial will be moved from the tennis center, as rescuers continue to search for survivors in the rubble.
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