Watch CBS News

Condo Collapse: Family Reunification Center Set Up To Assist People In Finding Missing Relatives

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - A family reunification center has been set up for anyone looking for unaccounted or missing relatives after a condo partially collapsed in Surfside early Thursday morning.

It happened at the 12-story Champlain Towers South, located at 8777 Collins Avenue, which has 136 units. Officials said 55 units on the northeast side were involved in the collapse.

Firefighters used truck-mounted ladders to reach people trapped on balconies. Thirty-five were pulled out of the building. A 12-year-old boy was pulled from the rubble.

For those looking for family members who were staying in the building, the reunification center is at 9301 Collins Avenue. People can also call (305) 614-1819.

CBS4's Lisa Petrillo went there and spoke with a young couple in their 20s who are babysitting their five nieces and nephews here while they're on vacation from Charlottesville. They described it as the most frightening thing they've been through.

"They heard what they called a wave. They said it sounded like a really strong wave in the water and all of a sudden they started to feel the building completely swerve. They ran down the stairs and they said the dust was unbelievable. They ran down with these little kids and were taken here," said Petrillo.

The couple said the kids just want to go home.

Petrillo said a mother and her two sons showed up at the center with water.

"They live down the street (from the Champlain Towers South) and they have three friends that live in that South Tower. She has been calling them all morning long. She has not been able to reach them. She was on the verge of tears, she's trying to stay positive saying maybe they're in the hospital. It's just surreal what is happening here," said Petrillo.

She said emotions were running high and people were coming inside trying to find their loved ones.

"It's a very scary situation, very sad situation," said Petrillo.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.