Over 72 hours have passed and the search continues for the now 152 missing people from the Champlain Towers collapse in Surfside. A nearby memorial, organized by former building resident Leo Soto, came together in Surfside as a sign of hope.
In the memorial– which was set up on 88th Street near the tower– photos, flowers and candles in honor of the deceased and missing were placed in front of a fence. Some people knelt for a moment of silence and prayer.
Some families and friends, like Pablo Rodriguez– whose mother and grandmother are missing– cling to hope.
Rodriguez shed tears as he spoke about the tragedy. “My son saw the footage in the morning. He may understand, I don’t know if he’s processed it completely, but we’re trying to hold off until we officially know before we make it clear to him.”
As missing people are being identified, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has been a steady presence. “The process of identifying these victims is very difficult. We’re going to be relying on DNA testing and that is why we’ve already been gathering DNA samples from the family members. So, they have all participated and provided the DNA to assist us in the identification.”
Levine Cava also requested the community’s prayers.
“Our first responders on the scene tell us they have hope so we ask everyone to trust them, to have patience and to pray with them … for the survivors,” she stated.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz told a crowd gathered at a Surfside press conference to have hope.
“As long as the experts that we trust keep telling me they have hope to find people who may have been able to survive.. we [have to] make sure we hold onto that hope.”