Death toll at 60; Wade visits; what about taxes?
Rescue crews continue to search through the rubble, but now do so without hope of finding anyone alive under the collapsed Champlain Towers South oceanfront condo tower in Surfside, the town immediately north of Miami Beach. Part of the apartment building with 12 residential floors collapsed June 24. The rest was demolished Sunday night.
People with loved ones at the condo, missing or safe, should call 305-614-1819 to notify officials. Anyone who lives at the Champlain Towers and is safe is asked to complete a Wellness Check form to help Miami-Dade County keep track of tenants.
Here’s what we know so far on Thursday, July 8…
NIST investigates collapse, asks public for photos and videos to aid them
As the National Institute of Standards and Technology continues its investigation into the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South, they have begun asking the public to submit any media or documentation that may aid them.
The NIST has been in Surfside since the weekend of the collapse, and confirmed its investigation is aimed at discovering what caused the collapse and what changes in laws, building codes and regulations could be made to prevent another failure of that kind.
In the past, this federal agency pushed safety reforms after investigating the collapse of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in 2001.
The NIST has opened its data portal to include photos, videos and documentation of the Surfside collapse. Those who have material can visit the portal and fill out a Google Form to help aid the investigation.
Five more victims identified in Surfside collapse, including last member of Cattarossi family
Miami-Dade police have identified five more people who were pulled from the rubble of Champlain Towers South Thursday night.
Mora was a Loyola University and Belen Jesuit Preparatory School graduate. He lived in Chicago, but was visiting his parents at their home in Champlain Towers South.
Oscar Cepero, 31, was fishing with Mora before the collapse blocks from the condominium. He said the news feels “surreal” and that the Belen community had been “hit hard” by the news.
The bodies of all five Cattarossi family members have been recovered from the rubble and identified.
Andrea was found July 8. Stella and her mother Graciela, a 48-year-old Argentinian who was a lifestyle photography, were both found on July 2. Graciela was a single mom who did everything for her daughter.
Gino, 89, and his wife Graciela, an 86-year-old Uruguayan national and former diplomat, were found July 6.
Not giving up hope that ‘Mommy’ lives
Though authorities said search teams now are on a recovery mission, Rachel Spiegel is “praying for a miracle” — that her 65-year-old mother, Judy, is still alive.
“I believe in my mom and we’re not going to give up until we’re reunited. We’re not giving up hope,” Spiegel said.
Spiegel told reporters Wednesday she has been in Surfside every day since the collapse and hasn’t been home to put her children to bed at night.
If their roles were reversed, she said, her mother wouldn’t leave her side either.
“I haven’t even approached real life yet,” she said. “I’m still in search mode, you know. Mission: Find Mommy.”
Rachel considers her mother to be “the second mom” to daughters Scarlett, 4, and Sloane, 2.
Although she’s holding out hope that her mother survived the collapse, Rachel said she dreads the thought of telling Scarlett that her grandmother, and “best friend,” passed away. During the pandemic, Judy took over childcare and taught Scarlett how to read, write and count, her husband, Kevin Spiegel, previously told the Herald.
“My mom is her rock,” Rachel Spiegel said
Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade goes to the collapse site
Since retiring as the greatest player in Miami Heat history and the No. 1 sports figure for a generation or two of South Florida sports fans, Dwyane Wade has moved to Los Angeles, become a game show host and bought a small piece of the Utah Jazz.
But Wade’s remaining South Florida connections include his love for the area. That’s why he was at the memorial fence near the collapsed Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside to pay his respects on Thursday. During his private visit, Wade also thanked first responders and addressed a team from South Florida Urban Search and Rescue before they began their shift.
Current Heat players Bam Adebayo, Udonis Haslem and Tyler Herro also recently visited Surfside, along with Heat coaches Erik Spoelstra, Chris Quinn, Octavio De La Grana, Chris Quinn and other team representatives.
The Heat, the Miami Heat Charitable Fund, The Coral Gables Community Foundation, The Key Biscayne Community Foundation and The Miami Foundation began a hardship fund for those impacted by the Surfside building collapse. To donate to the fund, visit supportsurfside.org.
An Alabama doctor is the latest victim identified
Dr. Gary Cohen, 58, lived in Birmingham, worked there and in Tuscaloosa and was spending the night with his brother, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brad Cohen at Brad’s Champlain Towers South apartment. Brad’s wife and 12-year-old daughter were sleeping in Miami Beach. They were in South Florida visiting Gary and Brad’s father, who lives in Boynton Beach.
Gary Cohen was found Wednesday and has been identified, Miami-Dade police announced Thursday.
Read more about the Cohen brothers in a story by Herald Staff Writers Taylor Dolven, Martin Vassolo and Herald Writer Marie-Rose Sheinerman.
Six more victims found, Miami-Dade Mayor says
10:20 a.m.: Another six victims have been found, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at Thursday morning’s media briefing. Levine Cava said there are now 60 confirmed deaths, 35 of whom have been identified. In total, 200 people have been accounted for and, potentially, 80 are among the unaccounted.
Levine Cava said rabbis have been embedded with rescue workers to make sure the bodies found are treated in a manner consistent with Judaism’s guidelines. Among Surfside’s population of just under 6,000 are around 2,500 of the Jewish faith.
Rescue workers stopped at 1:20 a.m. for a moment of silence. It was exactly two weeks since part of South Florida’s world suddenly fell.
Read the full story on Thursday morning at the collapse site by Herald Writer Marie-Rose Sheinerman.
Gov. DeSantis addresses property taxes and Champlain Towers South
10:15 a.m.: Gov. Ron DeSantis said he’s suspending any kind of property tax enforcement concerning the Champlain Towers South units and says he knows Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava is doing the same.
“My goal is to suspend or waive any law I can under the state of emergency to forestall that and then we’ll probably ask the legislature to remit any property tax liability from Champlain Towers South,” DeSantis said.
Surfside businesses rushed to help. But they need help themselves
Independent restaurants and stores surround familiar chain names (Publix, Starbucks, Flanigans) in Surfside’s two-block commercial area. And they rushed to help their neighbors in the wake of the June 24 tragedy.
But, “robust” described few Surfside businesses coming out of the pandemic. The secondary effects of the collapse — closed roads, damaged local psyche, 12 floors of residents who’ve lost everything — don’t help their health.
“There is no rule book for this, and I get it,” said Josh’s Deli owner Josh Marcus. “For some of us, we’ve watched our businesses disintegrate.”
Read the full story from Miami Herald staff writer Carlos Frias on Surfside’s businesses after the collapse.
Using art to help start the healing
The United Way of Miami-Dade has partnered with the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald to bring artwork to Surfside survivors following the devastating condo collapse.
The program, HeARTs for Healing, invites you to upload a photo of your artwork via the Volunteer Miami portal website for “healing and hope.” The art is an effort to support survivors who have lost everything and grieving families who have learned the search for living victims is ending.
Sorrow and prayer as the search continues with a different focus
With the official loss of hope for finding survivors, faith took over to help handle the ubiquitous sorrow that settled over families, rescue workers, officials Wednesday evening.
They observed a moment of silence for those lost, the found and not yet found. Rescue workers from around the world stood in front of what had been 12 floors of homes, possessions and lives and prayed. Mourners did the same in English and Spanish at the Harding Avenue memorial created by those wishing to honor the dead did the same. Nuns passed out rosary beads.
Champlain Towers South twin isn’t the same, some residents believe
While Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett has said repeatedly he wants closer scrutiny of Champlain Towers North, built at the same time and by the same folks as Champlain Towers South, the difference in the buildings’ condo associations gives some North Tower residents comfort that their building is fine.
Read the full story by Herald Staff Writers Aaron Leibowitz, Colleen Wright and Herald Writer Asta Hemenway.