As a place to pay respects, there’s never a shortage of emotion at the memorial wall in Surfside.
“I mean I wanted to honor my sister,” said Bernardo Camou Font.
He came to Surfside from Uruguay to put a poster up on the wall. It has childhood pictures with his sister, Gabriela, who is missing along with her husband.
“I wanted to say goodbye to her, to pray, to ask her to pray for me, I believe she went right up to heaven,” Camou Font said through tears.
For some families of the missing, they’ve reached the point of honoring the memories of their loved ones, rather than continue hoping for a miracle.
“It’s been a living nightmare, it’s one really, really long bad day,” said Pablo Rodriguez, describing the past 15 days.
Rodriguez says every day is torture. His mother, Elena Chavez, and his grandmother, Elena Blasser, are technically still missing, but Rodriguez accepts their fate.
Surfside Condo Collapse
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“To be honest, I lost that hope the day the building collapsed,” Rodriguez said, when he saw the security camera video of the building collapsing. “We saw the video in the car, and I lost it at that point because I can see my mom’s unit completely collapse straight down and then another building fall on top of it. So for me, at that moment, that’s when I saw them die, that’s when the hope that I’d see them again alive kind of disappeared.”
Rodriguez says his grandmother was visiting his mom at her apartment. They were planning to buy his son a new bike on the day of the disaster. Now he says the family can’t grieve properly until they get the official word.
“The wait is what’s really excruciating because we can’t even begin to cope with the grief while we’re just waiting for the phone call,” Rodriguez said. “We’re in this horrible limbo, we’re sitting here waiting and we know the phone call’s coming.”
Even though the search is now officially a recovery mission, the Spiegel family still clings to a wisp of optimism that Judy Spiegel, a wife, a mom, and a grandmother, will be found alive.
“They’re still gonna be searching for everybody and we still have hope they’re gonna be able to find my mom,” said Dr. Joshua Spiegel. “I always have hope, I understand that the likelihood is extremely low, but I’m never gonna lose hope because I know my mom would never lose hope.”