Demolition crews have set off explosives to bring down the damaged remaining portion of a collapsed South Florida condo.
The demolition Sunday night was key to resuming the search for victims of the June 24 collapse and even expected to open new areas for rescue teams to work in.
No one has been found alive since the first hours after the disaster. So far, rescuers have recovered the remains of 24 people, with 121 still missing.
Search efforts were suspended Saturday to allow demolition workers to drill holes for the explosives needed to bring the damaged Surfside building down.
Workers demolished what remained standing of the Surfside condominium in a bid to open up further areas for rescue
So far, rescuers have recovered the remains of 24 people, with 121 still missing
Officials initially believed it would take weeks to tear down the damaged building
Officials made the announcement Saturday that they were bringing the building down
Search and rescue operations could resume in as soon as 15 minutes
A Miami-Dade fire official said previously that search teams could resume their work between 15 and 60 minutes after the demolition.
Concerns had mounted that the damaged building was at risk of falling on its own. The approach of Tropical Storm Elsa added urgency to the demolition project.
With the entire building down, rescuers hoped to have access for the first time to parts of the garage area that are a focus of interest.
Officials first announced plans to bring the partially collapsed building down on Saturday morning.
The decision to raise the damaged building came as Tropical Storm Elsa bore down on the area
The demolition was carried out by Maryland-based company Controlled Demolition Inc
Stephanie Rioja prayed as the partially collapsed towers were demolished
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava issued a State of Emergency Saturday for Tropical Storm Elsa and made the ‘dramatic decision’ to sign an emergency order to raise the building before the storm hits the area Monday afternoon.
Officials told the families of people still missing in the rubble and people who escaped the building and left everything behind of their decision on Saturday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during Saturday morning’s press conference that they wouldn’t let people who escaped go back and get their possessions before the demolition.
‘At the end of the day, that building is too unsafe to let people go back in,’ DeSantis said. ‘I know there’s a lot of people who were able to get out, fortunately, who have things there. We’re very sensitive to that. But I don’t think that there’s any way you could let someone go back up into that building given the shape that it’s in now.’
In terms of the demolition, officials were told Friday evening that it would take weeks to safely tear down the remaining structure, but Cava said Saturday morning that the Maryland-based demolition company Controlled Demolition Inc. came forward last night.
Controlled Demolition Inc. says on its website that it has demolished ‘thousands of structures across six continents using explosives.’
Cava said they work fast, their engineers have studied the scene Saturday and said they could demolish the building before the storm impacts Southeast Florida.
Elsa is scheduled to make landfall in Florida on Tuesday, according to meteorologists
Meteorologists predict the eye of the storm, which was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, won’t directly hit the area, but Surfside and the surrounding municipalities could feel the brunt of strong wind gusts.
While the Caribbean Islands are expected to be hit hardest, Florida officials fear the storm’s gusts would knock down the remaining structure ‘in a direction we don’t want it to go,’ Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said.
As of Saturday, AccuWeather forecasters say Elsa is most likely to enter the eastern Gulf of Mexico and approach Florida early next week. Southeast Florida will start to feel its effects Monday afternoon through the middle of the week.
According to AccuWeather, Florida is expected to get enough rainfall to cause flooding along with damaging winds.
The problem for the collapse site would be if the storm moves north, instead of continuing on its track along the Gulf Coast side of Florida.
If it moves north, the rain and gusty winds would shift inland and batter sections along Florida’s southern shoreline, according to AccuWeather.