The alert from the Washington Post came almost to the second we landed in Miami.
The search for victims of the Surfside building collapse was nearing an end. They have identified the remains of the 97 reported missing.
This story is as sad and confounding to me now as it was when it happened three weeks ago.
How does something like this happen?
It turns out the hotel where we are staying this weekend is just blocks from the condo collapse. Even though I’m on vacation, I am still a reporter. Reporters are an interesting breed of people. We have to see things. We have to go to the story.
I just had to see it… but I was not prepared for what I saw.
First of all, the area around the condo is blocked off. You can’t get to the building. Law enforcement is still everywhere. From a distance, you can see the rubble of the Champlain Towers South condo. Dump trucks are everywhere. The traffic is rerouted off the street.
A block over, a memorial for those lives lost. Flowers. Photos. Teddy bears. Original art work. Yellow wristbands that say “Strong for Surfside.” In the background, the sound of a crane removing the debris. It’s all surreal and so very sad.
Now what? What do they do with this property? Rebuild? Turn it into a memorial? Leave it bare?
The Associated Press is reporting that most believe it’s still too early to consider anything for the property. Families still need to process and grieve. Clearly though, something will have to be done to mark the tragedy.
As I walked back to my hotel, I heard someone practicing drums in a house nearby. I saw people jogging. I saw people walking their dogs.
They stopped at the memorial. Looked at a picture or two. Looked at the crane doing its work. They moved on.
Weeks later, signs of normalcy again. In this place though, true normal won’t be felt for a very long time. Just sad and empty. You just wonder how it happened…
I just had to see it.