Sunday June 27th 2021
Memorial to high-rise ruin
Uncertainty plagues loved ones in Miami
Even four days after the partial collapse of a skyscraper in Miami, rescuers are still looking for more than 150 missing people. These are difficult hours for the relatives. A memorial now gives despair and grief a place.
“Missing” is written in capital letters next to the photo of Alfredo and Lorenzo. Alfredo, in the photo with glasses and a beard, and his teenage son are said to have been in apartment 512 in the Surfside skyscraper when it partially collapsed. Her photo and that of many others of the more than 150 missing people hang on a chain link fence not far from the scene of the accident, where a memorial for the victims has been erected.
An elderly couple sitting in a restaurant, a young man in a suit and bow tie, a couple hugging on the beach – “We give faces to these missing people, these parents, these children,” says Olivia Ostrow with tears in her eyes . The Frenchwoman has lived in Surfside, north of Miami Beach, for 20 years.
A wing of the twelve-story apartment building Champlain Tower collapsed there on Thursday night. Some residents were able to take the stairs to safety or were rescued from balconies. It is feared that many have been surprised by the collapse in their sleep.
“Here you can find peace”
Bouquets of flowers were hung around the photos and candles were lit. Bible quotes can be read on post-it notes. So far, five dead have been rescued from the rubble, 156 people were missing. There is a pungent smell of burned rubber and melted plastic in the air. In the background of the memorial, smoke is still rising from the rubble. Two large cranes rumble, in the summer heat of Florida the security forces continue their tireless search for the victims.
“I’m still in shock,” says Gina Berlin. She has lived in Surfside for 30 years and friends of hers lived in the collapsed part of the building, but were able to get to safety. The 54-year-old wants to pray for the missing.
However, in the midst of the noise of the power generators and the emergency vehicles, it is difficult to remember. At times, the police had forbidden to stay in front of the memorial. A few streets away, away from the tumult of the salvage work, residents have set up another memorial. Bouquets of flowers, messages of support and the names of several missing persons adorn the fencing of a park.
Daniela Calzadilla sits cross-legged on a bench while her dog Paco romps nearby. “You can find peace here,” says the 48-year-old. “I know a lot of the families who miss someone”. Raphael Amar has just come out of the synagogue. The atmosphere during the Shabbat celebration was very depressing, says the 63-year-old. Among the missing are many members of the city’s Jewish community. But the memorial shows “that we are all a community in this small town,” says Raphael.