It’s Wednesday, July 7th – and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 – Elsa weakened as a tropical storm as it threatened Florida's northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday after raking past the Tampa Bay region with gusty winds and heavy rain.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said forecasts called for the cyclone to come ashore sometime between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. A hurricane warning was in effect for a long stretch of coastline, from Egmont Key at the mouth of Tampa Bay to the Steinhatchee River. Forecasters said Elsa would slice across inland north Florida as a tropical storm with strong rains and wind, then move on to Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia before heading out in the Atlantic Ocean by Friday. Earlier Tuesday, Elsa swept past the Florida Keys but spared the low-lying island chain a direct hit. Still, there were heavy rains predicted in the Keys through Wednesday, along with strong winds.
No. 2 - The discovery of eight more victims in the rubble of a collapsed Surfside condominium building raised the death toll to 36, officials said Tuesday as a ramped-up search effort continued.
Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told families that the number of bodies recovered Tuesday is the highest in one day since the collapse on June 24. Lightning forced rescuers to pause their work for two hours early Tuesday, Jadallah said. And stiff winds of 20 mph with stronger gusts hampered efforts to move heavy debris with cranes, officials said at a morning news conference. Up to 109 people remain unaccounted for, though only around 70 of those are confirmed to have been inside the Champlain Towers South building when it collapsed in the early morning hours of June 24, she said.
No. 3 - The bodies of two young sisters pulled from the rubble of a South Florida condo building — so tiny that the 4 and 10-year-olds were placed in the same casket — were buried alongside their parents Tuesday, their white coffin draped with innocent pink and purple ribbons.
Lucia Guara, “Lulu bear,” loved watching “Jeopardy” with her dad, dancing and doing yoga with her mother. Her baby sister, Emma, was the princess of the family, a natural artist, who enjoyed her dad's piggyback rides and cuddling with her mom, family member Digna Rodriguez said. The hourlong funeral was held at the family's Catholic parish, St. Joseph, just three blocks from where the Champlain Towers South building partially collapsed, killing the Guara sisters, their parents, Marcus and Anaely Guara, and 32 others.
No. 4 - Engineers and officials are still performing a structural review at the Champlain Towers North condominium as Surfside's mayor said there are still "deep concerns" about the building nearly two weeks after the collapse at its sister property.
At a news conference Tuesday, Mayor Charles Burkett said officials are doing a "deep dive" structural review at the Champlain Towers North following the deadly collapse of the Champlain Towers South. Although the building wasn't put under a mandatory evacuation, residents of Champlain Towers North were given the option to move to alternative housing after the collapse of the south tower on June 24, and Burkett said several have taken them up on the offer.
No. 5 - Survivors who leased or owned a unit in the collapsed Surfside condo will receive $10,000 for relocation, no questions asked, NBC 6 has learned.
State Senator Jason Pizzo said the announcement was made Tuesday night during a meeting with survivors of the Champlain Tower collapse, who are now displaced and worried about how to rebuild their lives. Pizzo said there is an overwhelming feeling of survivor’s guilt. Focus on the Surfside condo collapse continues to be on search and recovery, but slowly, the attention is turning to those who made it out alive. To hear some of their stories, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Jamie Guirola.
No. 6 - K-9’s have played a key role in the Surfside search and rescue efforts. More than a dozen dogs are rotating shifts on the massive pile of rubble to help first responders find signs of life.
Stone, Zoey and Saturn are part of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Florida Taskforce 1. After working a 12-hour shift on Tuesday, they received quite the surprise from a local business. Doggie Bakery Miami made the dogs a thank you cake and gave them some delicious treat as a token of appreciation. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue K-9 specialist Carlo Galluccio is grateful for the support and says having Saturn by his side has helped him cope with all the emotions he feels at the collapse site. To see how these four-legged workers for the praise they deserve, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Laura Rodriguez.