Miami building collapse

Family Comforted After Finding Items Following Surfside Condo Collapse

Thursday morning, the Noriega family rushed to the scene hoping 92-year-old Hilda would be okay

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While families continue to search for hope as first responders go through the rubble from Thursday's condo collapse in Surfside, one family believes they got a sign from their missing grandmother.

Thursday morning, the Noriega family rushed to the scene hoping 92-year-old Hilda would be okay. Her grandson, Michael, and his family stood on the side of the collapsed building.

"It was really like a scene out of a movie," he said. "I fell to my knees in realization that my grandmother was in the building that just collapsed." 

In disbelief, the family peered through the area looking for signs of life. Michael's father, North Bay Village Police Chief Carlos Noriega, found a birthday card and more.

"This is actually my grandmother and my grandfather in their younger years and my father," Michael said while holding a picture.

The family sees the items, including a house blessing on paper that was found, as a sign of hope as they wait for any news.

"It gave me a lot of peace to know that whether my grandmother's soul is in that rubble, it would be a miracle to bring her out alive," Michael said. "But if her soul is in heaven, then i know that she is with Jesus. Either way, we are good. So, we have found comfort in that." 

There has also been speculation as to when the search and rescue efforts will become a recovery mission. 

Maggie Castro, a firefighter and paramedic for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and rescue specialist for Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1 said there is no specific time for that.

"There are many factors that go into making that decision those determinations have not been made as of this moment," Castro said. "We are still in a rescue mission and we will continue to be in a rescue mission until the powers that be decide that enough time is past or the factors that they’re looking for have been completed -- that we have exhausted every possible mean of finding anyone alive."

At first many family members and friends were frustrated with the length of time that has gone by, but Castro believes seeing first responders up close yesterday has changed their perspective.

“There’s a combination of everything going on as you can imagine. We all process things differently… So every family member, the hundred that we talk to on a daily basis, everyone is at a different stage," Castro said. "Everyone is going through different emotions, but everyone is understanding that we’re all in it together now. I think the site visit has really helped them put that into perspective.”

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