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'I Hear People Screaming': Surfside Resident Recalls Horrific Condo Collapse

SURFSIDE (CBSMiami) – The sudden partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South is a terrifying memory for a Surfside woman who hasn't been back home since the tragic incident.

"I hear people screaming 'Help me, please help me, I'm here,' screaming at the top of their lungs," recalled Sarah. R who spoke to CBS4's Austin Carter by telephone from New York.

Sarah lives in a neighboring high-rise building, which was evacuated, following the tragedy.

The remaining portion of the Champlain Towers South was reduced to rubble late Sunday night by demolition crews who set up a string of explosives that brought down the building in a dramatic plume of dust.

But on June 24, Sarah witnessed the first collapse.

"I see the middle collapse. I didn't even think twice I took my dogs through my stairs; I didn't want to take the elevator because I didn't know what was happening," said Sarah who has lived at Eighty-Seven Park for the past year and a half but has not been back.

"We had a couple days to take our belongings, but I was already here in New York."

Currently, the death toll is 24 with 121 still unaccounted for.

Rescue crews resumed searching the rubble shortly after Sunday night's demolition which took place due to safety concerns.

"Our monitors went off. We were monitoring the cracks we had three that signaled there was some expansion," said Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said.

Last week, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue noticed major red flags with the partial structure.

A large column hanging from the structure had moved six to twelve inches.

The fear was that it could fall and cause damage to the support columns. Also, there was slight movement in some of the concrete floor slabs.

That's when the decision was made to demolish the remaining part of the structure.

The demolition went "exactly as planned," according to Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. "It was picture perfect. Exactly what we were told would happen."

A CBS4 News camera was aboard a boat just offshore and captured what remained of the Champlain Towers South crumbling.

Watch demolition here:


"I feel relief because this building was unstable. The building was hampering our search efforts," Levine Cava said.

Now, nearly two weeks after the collapse, the official lawsuit has been filed.

Attorney Brad Sohn said he expects more defendants to be added within the next week or two.

Neighbors 4 Neighbors has established a fund to assist families impacted by the collapse as well as help feed first responders. To contribute, call Neighbors 4 Neighbors at (305) 597-4404 or go to

So far, they have raised more than $120,000.

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