MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The combination of fearing the worst and waiting for answers is brutal for those impacted by the Surfside condo collapse. The mental toll on these families is mounting. But so is the emotional support.
In all the flowers, flyers and faces, there are tiny flickers of faith in the miraculous still happening. But on day six of the search, it’s getting harder and harder to hold out hope.READ MORE: Florida Records Highest One-Day Total Of COVID Cases With 21,000
“I was on the site this morning, and I have the chills as I’m saying this literally, looking at the site, and I said, ‘This took me back to Haiti 2010,’” said Dov Maisel of United Hatzalah.
Maisel just flew in from Israel with a team of paramedics experienced in counseling those connected to catastrophe. They call what they’re providing for the many who are scared and mourning: psychological first aid.
“Working with grief, working with uncertainty, knowing that the outcome is not going to be good,” Maisel said.
“We all hope and we pray for that miracle. But I think everyone does understand the reality. Do you communicate that out loud with these families?” CBS4’s Jessica Layton asked Maisel.
“We don’t lie to them. We tell them the situation. Yet, at the same time we are believing people,” Maisel responded.READ MORE: Royal Caribbean Expands COVID Testing Requirements
In the worst, most raw time in their lives, victims are getting similar emotional support from their houses of worship. From churches to synagogues, religious leaders are playing a role that is both comforting and powerful, helping people readjust their expectations.
“The nature of hope changes with time as people readjust their expectations with time. Maybe on day one they wanted to have the names, things resolved,” said Rabbi Fred Klein, the head chaplain for the Jewish Federation of Greater Miami. “Maybe now the hope is some people will find a body.”
Rabbi Klein has been by the side of families reacting with everything from sadness and anger to frustration and exhaustion. Having lived in Champlain Towers when he first moved to South Florida, he brings a special perspective to his conversations with those grieving.
“There are no unnatural feelings at this point, because we are dealing with an unnatural situation,” Klein said.
As for the best way to support those impacted, Maisel said sometimes it is actions, not words that help the most.
“A hug, a hand on a shoulder, understanding, compassion,” Maisel said.MORE NEWS: Activists Hold 'Down With The Chains' Rally At Bayfront Park Saturday
Earlier in the day, Layton met two chaplains from the American Red Cross who’ve also been counseling the families. They told her the hardest part for them was meeting the families over the weekend and then coming to the site Tuesday to see the faces of those they so desperately want to come home.