In Surfside, a grieving community comes together as hope fades for those trapped in building collapse
Updated 1:08 PM ET, Mon June 28, 2021
Surfside, Florida (CNN)As the chances of finding survivors diminish following the condo tower collapse in South Florida, loved ones of those still missing spend their days filled with hope and fear.
Shell-shocked evacuees and family members gather daily on the second floor of a hotel in Surfside to get updates. Between tearful calls and hugs from visiting therapists, they sit on white leather chairs scattered around the lobby.
At least 10 people died and 151 remain unaccounted for following the tragedy at Champlain Towers South.
Margarita Bermudez, who flew in from Puerto Rico last week, is one of a steady stream of family members who are looking for their relatives. Her nephew, Luis Andres Bermudez, his mother, Ana Ortiz, 46, and her boyfriend, Frankie Kleinman, were in building 702.
Andres was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was born and suffered a stroke last year, Bermudez said. With rescue crews taking days to sift through the mountain of rubble, Bermudez feared it'd be too late to get to her nephew.
"Luis always has so much faith and hope even though everything that has happened to him sucks," Bermudez, says. "We're scared, but what else can we do? It's our turn to have hope now."
A small town's tragedy goes international
Surfside is a tiny town of about 6,000. But the images of the collapse reverberated around the world.
The residents of the condo complex mirror Miami's multicultural population. Dozens of missing people are from various Latin American countries, including Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay and Paraguay.
The town is also home to a large population of Orthodox Jews. At the hotel's family reunification center, it's common to hear a mix of conversations in Hebrew, Spanish, English and Portuguese.
Synagogues and churches opened their doors for emergency prayer services after the collapse. Rabbi Zalman Lipskar told CNN's Randi Kaye at least 20 people associated with the Shul of Bal Harbour are unaccounted for. Kleinman is one of those missing, who are between ages 20 and 60.