The remaining structure of the collapsed Florida condo will be demolished with controlled explosives on Sunday amid fears that Tropical Storm Elsa will topple what’s left of the building.
There are still 124 people missing and the death toll is now up to 24 after two more victims were found last night, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said during a Saturday morning press conference.
She issued a State of Emergency Saturday for Tropical Storm Elsa and made the ‘dramatic decision’ to sign an emergency order to raise the building before the storm hits the area Monday afternoon.
Officials told the families of people still missing in the rubble and people who ran out of the building and left everything behind of their decision on Saturday.
A Miami-Dade County Police boat patrols in front of the Champlain Towers South condo building, where search and rescue efforts continue more than a week after the building partially collapsed
Workers transport a stretcher with remains extricated from the rubble, near the Champlain Towers South condo building, where 124 people remain missing more than a week after it partially collapsed
Rescue teams pictured transporting a stretcher with remains from the rubble on Friday
Rescue crews continue to sift through debris of the collapsed Florida condo
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his wife, Casey, leave flags at the makeshift memorial Saturday near the collapsed Florida tower
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during Saturday morning’s press conference that they wouldn’t let people who escaped go back and get their possessions before the demolition.
‘At the end of the day, that building is too unsafe to let people go back in,’ DeSantis said. ‘I know there’s a lot of people who were able to get out, fortunately, who have things there. We’re very sensitive to that. But I don’t think that there’s any way you could let someone go back up into that building given the shape that it’s in now.’
While crews continue to search for victims and sift through debris for victims’ valuables, such as jewelry or electronic devices, to return to the families, they face another challenge: COVID-19.
So far, six members of one of the Florida rescue teams tested positive, Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said, and the team was removed from the site.
More than 420 other Florida search and rescue crew members were tested and all came back negative, Cominsky said Saturday.
In terms of the demolition, officials were told Friday evening that it would take weeks to safely tear down the remaining structure, but Cava said Saturday morning that the Maryland-based demolition company Controlled Demolition Inc. came forward last night.
Controlled Demolition Inc. says on its website that it has demolished ‘thousands of structures across six continents using explosives.’
Cava said they work fast, their engineers have studied the scene Saturday and said they could demolish the building before the storm impacts Southeast Florida.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during Saturday morning’s press conference that they wouldn’t let people who escaped go back and get their possessions before the demolition because the building isn’t stable
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, at the mic, said during a Saturday morning press conference that two more bodies were found, bringing the death toll up to 24
Personal belongings are seen amid debris dangling from the remains of apartments sheared in half, in the still standing portion of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida
The video recorded seven minutes before the building collapsed shows water pouring down from the ceiling of the garage. It comes amid concerns from a structural engineer that the swimming pool deck may have caved in first and brought down the rest of the building with it, as corroborated by witnesses who say that sections of the pool deck had collapsed into the garage below
Meteorologists predict the eye of the storm, which was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, won’t directly hit the area, but Surfside and the surrounding municipalities could feel the brunt of strong wind gusts.
While the Caribbean Islands are expected to be hit hardest, Florida officials fear the storm’s gusts would knock down the remaining structure ‘in a direction we don’t want it to go,’ Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said.
As of Saturday, AccuWeather forecasters say Elsa is most likely to enter the eastern Gulf of Mexico and approach Florida early next week. Southeast Florida will start to feel its effects Monday afternoon through the middle of the week.
According to AccuWeather, Florida is expected to get enough rainfall to cause flooding along with damaging winds.
The problem for the collapse site would be if the storm moves north, instead of continuing on its track along the Gulf Coast side of Florida.
If it moves north, the rain and gusty winds would shift inland and batter sections along Florida’s southern shoreline, according to AccuWeather.
Tropical Storm Elsa is headed toward the Caribbean Islands and is expected to impact Southeast Florida, where the collapse site, by Monday afternoon or Monday evening
AccuWeather meteorologists are tracking the storm and say they expect it to stay along the Gulf Coast side of Florida
Meteorologists believe Florida can start seeing effects from the storm as early as Monday afternoon
Before the Saturday morning press conference, DeSantis and his wife Casey visited the makeshift memorial near the fallen building.
They placed flags in the memorial and paid their respects to the victims.
‘This was a tragedy like we’ve never seen because you just don’t expect a building to fall,’ DeSantis said.
A follow-up meeting will be held Saturday afternoon to finalize details of the demolition, which could be a precarious operation as experts enter the building to bore into the structure to install explosives.
Fire Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah said the remnants of the demolished building would be removed immediately after with the intent of giving rescuers access for the first time to the garage area that is the focus of the search.
Currently, rescuers can’t go above the first floor because the building is so unstable, Cominsky said.
So far, six members of one of the Florida rescue teams tested positive, Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky, pictured at the microphone, said
From left, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel Fai Yeung and Chief Melanie C. Adams visit the makeshift memorial for the victims
Gov. DeSantis and his wife pay their respects to the victims at the makeshift memorial
The official cause of the June 24 collapse is under investigation. A 2018 engineering report found that the building’s ground-floor pool deck was resting on a concrete slab that had ‘major structural damage’ and needed extensive repairs. The report also found ‘abundant cracking’ of concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage.
Just two months before the building fell, the president of its board wrote a letter to residents saying that structural problems identified in the 2018 inspection had ‘gotten significantly worse’ and that major repairs would cost at least $15.5 million.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill visited the site and the makeshift memorial earlier this week and met with local and state officials in Florida, victims’ families and first responders.
‘I promise you: I know. What you’re doing here is incredible,’ the president told first responders.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill visited the memorial for the victims of the Florida condo collapse
‘What you’re doing is incredible,’ President Joe Biden told first responders are responding to the tragic building collapse in Surfside, Florida