Jake Samuelson has grandparents who are unaccounted for following the Champlain Towers collapse. Since then, he says that he’s been receiving cryptic phone calls from the landline inside their sunken condo. Jake Samuelson told local outlet WBLG that he has received at least 16 calls from the phone number of his missing grandparents, Arnie and Myriam Notkin.
Jake Samuelson said that the first call came just hours after the first collapse, late Thursday night. Each call that came through had nothing but static. Arnie and Myriam Notkin are in their 80s and live in apartment number 302 of the Champlain Towers South building. According to the report, their landline sits right next to their bed. On Friday, Jake Samuelson said, his family “received 15 more unexplained calls” from the number.
His grandfather Arnie, 87, “is known as a beloved physical education teacher” and Myriam, 81, “is a banker and real estate agent,” WBLG reported.
“We were all sitting there in the living room, my whole family, Diane, my mother, and we were just shocked,” Samuelson told the outlet. “We kind of thought nothing of it because we answered, and it was static.”
Local 10 News said that they “tried calling the number and we got the sound of a busy signal.”
“We are trying to rationalize what is happening here. We are trying to get answers,” Jake Samuelson told his local news station. They supposedly reached out to a detective to figure out what is happening with the landline and possibly with his grandparents.
North Miami Beach Commissioner Fortuna Smukler, who grew up with the Notkins’ three daughters, told the Miami Herald that she began losing hope. “At this point it would be a miracle … we’re hoping for a miracle,” she said.
Jake Samuelson and Commissioner Smukler aren’t the only Miami residents losing hope. Pablo Rodriguez was finding it increasingly difficult on Sunday to believe that his mother and grandmother were still alive. Elena Blasser, 64, and his grandmother Elena Chavez, 88, had been in a penthouse unit above the Champlain Towers South condominium building when it collapsed early Thursday morning, the The New York Times reports.
But hope began to fade on Sunday as rescuers continued to recover more bodies. Some rescues were able to happen early on. But as Sunday afternoon approached, the emergency workers had found only a handful of bodies and scattered human remains amid the Champlain Towers South wreckage.
Nonprofit organizations made psychologists available for family members navigating a fourth day of uncertainty. Search-and-rescue officials turned to structural engineers to help them safely navigate the imposing and unstable tangle of concrete, flooring, wires and personal effects.
“It’s an extremely difficult situation,” Alan R. Cominsky, the Miami-Dade County fire chief, said in a news conference. “Our rescue teams are working nonstop, doing all that we can, searching every area, every bit of hope, to see if we can find a live victim.”
The rescue teams are working around the clock, with more than 300 emergency workers, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “We don’t have a resource problem, we’ve had a luck problem. We just need to start to get a little more lucky right now,” Mayor Charles W. Burkett of Surfside said on Sunday morning on ABC News.