Part of a beachside condominium building collapsed in the early morning hours Thursday. Dozens of people were rescued. Many remain missing.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told WLRN that as of Friday afternoon, 159 people from the Champlain Towers South were still not accounted for.
“We for sure do not know that they are actually missing,” said Levine Cava. “So these are people that may or may not have been in the building. We just want to be very clear about that, and we're hopeful that many of them were somewhere else having a safe time.”
Levine Cava said emergency workers are still searching for survivors.
“They're not only hopeful, they're extremely motivated,” said Levine Cava. “In the Haiti earthquake, they found people alive seven days later. You know, we hear these stories everywhere. And you know what? These people were on the scene, they were part of those rescue efforts. This is the best [search and rescue] team in the nation.”
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President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for the state of Florida Friday. Levine Cava said the designation helps to provide the financial assistance needed to continue search and rescue efforts and debris removal moving forward.
Twelve South Florida organizations have partnered together to raise funds to help those impacted by the partial building collapse in Surfside.
The Miami Foundation’s president and CEO Rebecca Fishman Lipsey said her organization jumped immediately into action.
“We realized we needed there to be a clear, safe, unifying way for people to donate money in this moment that could go to the families that are facing an unbelievably devastating tragedy,” Fishman Lipsey said.
Fishman Lipsey said more than $100,000 has been raised so far.
“We have some funds dedicated just for immediate needs right now on the ground,” Fishman Lipsey said. “But the longer effort is going to be helping people who are affected by this tragedy, who still don't even know where their loved ones are still don't know what the state of the loss is going to be for them. But we're pooling resources [to help them].”
Fishman Lipsey said the different organizations are working on a way to ensure those that need funds can get the money they need.
“We're setting very simple, clear criteria that will be up on the site for who it is that can use funds and for what the funds can be used," said Fishman Lipsey. “ And we'll make sure that it is translated and simple and un-burdensome, but also that we have the ability to vet the need to make sure that the dollars are going where they need to be going.”