SURFSIDE (CBSMiami/CNN) – As the Surfside community grieves those they have lost and more families get answers, search crews are nearing the bottom of the rubble pile in the Champlain Towers South collapse.
“Does that mean we are almost done with the search? No. Until we clear the entire site and find no more human remains we are not done,” said Miami-Dade Police spokesperson Alvaro Zabaleta late last week.READ MORE: Florida’s Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday Starts Saturday
Part of the condo collapsed in the early morning hours of June 24, as many of the residents slept.
Immediately, crews were at the scene sifting through the rubble to search for the victims, pausing only for dangerous weather and when the remains of the building were demolished.
Even after experts declared there was no longer hope of finding survivors, officials promised families the work would not let up until all the remains were recovered.
Now that the promise has been fulfilled for most families, the end of the search marks the beginning of a new phase of mourning.
Nicole Ortiz said the agony of waiting to learn the fate of her sister and nephew was indescribable.
“I screamed,” she said. “I’ve almost fainted. I’ve cried.”
But now, many families have answers.READ MORE: Section Of Turnpike Closed Due To Overturned Tanker Truck, Fuel Spill
The community is now mourning Vishal and Bhavna Patel and their 1-year-old daughter Aishani. Ilan Naibryf’s family is saying goodbye to a young man they said made an impact everywhere he went.
Sergio Lozano is coping with the loss of both of his parents, Antonio and Gladys.
“They died together,” Lozano said. “It’s not fair, being crushed, being destroyed. It’s not fair.”
The death toll stands at 97 and 95 of those have been identified.
For those who survived, it’s a matter of picking up the pieces after an almost-miraculous survival.
Iliana Monteagudo recalled the moment she saw the cracks running down her walls and the sound of the home she had dreamed of for 40 years crashing around her as she escaped through the stairs.
“Something inside of me said run,” Monteagudo said. “You have to run to save your life.”
Neighbors 4 Neighbors has established a fund to assist families impacted by the collapse as well as help feed the first responders. To contribute, call Neighbors 4 Neighbors at (305) 597-4404 or go to neighbors4neighbors.org/surfsidefund.MORE NEWS: Broward Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate For County-Owned Buildings
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