Search and Rescue Operations in Surfside Condo Collapse Resume as Area Braces for Hurricane Elsa
The search and rescue operation was halted on Thursday due to "structural concerns" about the standing portion of the condo
Search and rescue efforts have resumed in Surfside as the Florida area prepares for the impending Hurricane Elsa.
The operation picked up again on Thursday evening, just hours after it was halted due to "structural concerns" about the standing portion of the condo.
However, time may be limited once again for first responders as Hurricane Elsa approaches the Florida area, causing inclement weather and dangerous outdoor conditions.
According to AccuWeather.com, the hurricane formed early Friday over the Atlantic Ocean, just west of Barbados. Experts believe the storm will hit Hispaniola and Jamaica this weekend before reaching the United States next week, bringing with it heavy rain and strong winds, the outlet reported.
Winds of 74 mph with gusts up to 86 mph have already been reported in Barbados and are expected to reach up to 90 mph, per AccuWeather.com.
The outlet also reported that "rain, building seas and gusty thunderstorms are likely to spread northward over the Florida Peninsula" and possibly "mark an end to search and recovery operations" in Surfside.
Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed the impending hurricane on Friday during a press conference and confirmed that measures are being taken to prepare for the storm.
"We are working, I've ordered our Department of Emergency Management to start preparing a potential state of emergency," DeSantis said. "I'm going to be working on that today. If we do do the executive order, that will assist our emergency response team in preparations for Hurricane Elsa."
While DeSantis said officials are unsure of the track the hurricane may take, he noted that Southern Florida may find themselves bracing for inclement weather as early as Sunday evening.
If that were to occur, DeSantis said search and rescue efforts may be impacted — and possibly be forced to come to a halt once again.
"It is possible that we could see tropical force winds as early as Sunday night," he said. "And so we're actively monitoring the situation as we always would do with these storms, but given what we're doing on this site, we're also paying special attention to any impacts that could happen here in northeast Miami-Dade County. It is possible that this area could see full form tropical storm-force winds. Not guaranteed, but it is possible."
During the press conference, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also provided an updated count of the victims, confirming that 20 deaths have been recorded, 188 people are accounted for, and 128 others remain unaccounted for.
The resuming of efforts came on the same day that President Joe Biden traveled to Florida to meet with state officials, first responders and families of the victims who were in the Champlain Towers South condo when it collapsed on June 24.
RELATED VIDEO: Community Rallies Around Mom, Teen Daughter Pulled from Rubble in Fla. Condo Collapse: 'Miracles'
The most recent victim was found on Wednesday and identified by Miami-Dade County Police a day later as Magaly Elena Delgado, 80.
Earlier that day, police confirmed that they had found the bodies of two children in the rubble: Lucia Guara, 10, and her younger sister Emma Guara, 4. The discovery of the sisters marks the first child victims identified in the tragedy.
"Any loss of life, especially given the unexpected, unprecedented nature of this event is a tragedy. But the loss of our children is too great to bear," Mayor Cava said on Wednesday. "We're now standing united once again with this terrible new revelation that children are the victims as well."