France

“People like us”: the faces of the missing in the collapsed building in Florida



Lorenzo and Alfredo, Ilan and Deborah: the victims of the collapsed building in Surfside, near Miami, are no longer numbers but names and faces that adorn on Saturday a makeshift memorial installed on the fence of the camp basic lifeguards.

Behind the gates, one street away, smoke still emerges from the Champlain Towers building, which has one wing amputated, and we hear the sound of cranes clearing the rubble of the disaster which, according to a final report, made the at least five dead and 156 missing, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday.

Under the picture of Alfredo, the father with beard and glasses, and his teenage brown haired son Lorenzo, the words “MISSING” and a message: “A friend of the family tells me they were in apartment 512 “.

“They are people like us”

There is also the photo of an elderly couple at a table in a restaurant, that of a young man in a suit and bow tie, or of a couple hugging on the beach, Ilan Naibryf and Deborah Berezdivin. Sometimes passages from the Bible were written on a sticky note.

Around the photos, bouquets of flowers were hung and candles were placed on the floor. “We see the smoke in the distance, and here the faces of the missing, they are now unforgettable,” Olivia Ostrow, a Frenchwoman who has lived in this small town north of Miami for 20 years, told AFP. “We put faces on these missing, these parents, these children. They are people like us, ”she explains with tears in her eyes.

Gina Berlin, who has lived in the neighborhood for almost 30 years, came to pray for the missing. “I’m still in shock,” said the 54-year-old woman, a couple of friends who lived in the untouched part of the building and was able to escape.

Peace and meditation

However, it is difficult to gather in the midst of the noise of the electric generators and the emergency vehicles coming and going from the base camp. The police even for a time prohibited the population from stopping in front of the memorial.

A few streets further on, the calm of a park also transformed into a place of memory contrasts with the tumult of the cranes.

At the corner of a street lined with small houses, residents of the neighborhood have installed a small memorial on the gates of a dog park. Bouquets of flowers, messages of support and the names of several missing, with the number of their apartment were hung on the railings.

Dana Culvin, 53, had the idea on Friday. “I just want to convey my prayers and my love to the community and especially to those who are waiting for answers,” she said, referring to the families of the missing people.

Daniela Calzadilla, 48, sits cross-legged on a bench, while her dog Paco works out.

“Here you can find peace,” she explains. “I know a lot of families who have passed away, meditation is great for feeling calm in your body and mind,” she explains.

We are all neighbors, it creates a feeling of extraordinary unity.

Passing in front of the park, Raphael Amar pauses in front of the memorial.

This 63-year-old member of the Jewish community, born in Morocco and living in Surfside for 20 years, returns from the synagogue where the atmosphere was very heavy on this Shabbat day “because of those who were missing”.

Many Jews are among the missing in the building, but this small memorial “shows that we are one community in this small town. We are all neighbors, it creates a feeling of extraordinary unity ”.

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