Nina Le Troadec, 15, lives in the Champlain Towers East building in Surfside, Florida. Her home is in one of the sister towers to the now collapsed Champlain Towers South building. Nina Le Troadec is among hundreds of locals who first saw Champlain Towers South collapse. Her bedroom balcony overlooked the skyline. A front-row seat no one has asked for.
The rising high school junior was born in Switzerland but moved to Surfside with her mom and sister in 2012. When her family settled in South Florida, they moved to the Champlain Towers — where they lived ever since. “I remember seeing my old friend’s apartment, half of it gone. I knew a family there too and was so scared for them,” she said.
Everyone the Le Troadecs know who live in Champlain Towers South — including an old classmate from elementary school and family friends — survived. She recalls watching people from the other tower from her balcony, she said, “all I kept thinking was that’s going to happen to our building.”
Champlain Towers North and East were later deemed safe, though residents have been offered a place to relocate if they’d like. She woke up her sister and the three women hustled downstairs and stayed overnight in a hotel. She had text messages and voicemails from people asking if she was alive.
“Everyone thought it was my building,” she said. “It was just terrifying.” As of Monday, Nina was back in her condo on the 10th floor. But as Nina put it, “no one should be going to bed thinking ‘is my building going to collapse?'”
Jonah Handler will be one teenager forever affected by this collapse. Though he survived, he lost his home and his mother. Also only 15 years old, he was one of the survivors who was rescued early on. As the confirmed death toll rises, it becomes less difficult to imagine what family and friends are going through. Especially children and teens. Currently, 11 people have been confirmed dead.
Two teens were staying with their parents on vacation in one of the condos when the building collapsed. Luckily, the family survived. The Aguero family was able to escape the collapse, on their way out, there was an elderly woman trapped. Justin Aguero said, “if she doesn’t get out, we won’t get out.” On top of surviving the tragedy, they family also became heroes, by helping out an elderly resident.
With 11 confirmed dead and the rescue efforts reaching its 5th day, hope is looking dim, but officials say that they are not giving up. About 150 people are still unaccounted for. The New York Times writes, “no survivors have been pulled from the wreckage of the Champlain South Towers in Surfside, Fla., since Thursday, the day that half of the 13-story building collapsed.”
On Saturday, the emergency rescue team began digging a massive trench, more than 125 feet long and four stories deep, to navigate below the debris to search for the missing residents. Mayor Burkett of Surfside recalled talking with an 11- or 12-year-old girl at the Champlain Towers South collapse site on Sunday night.
“She was reading a Jewish prayer to herself, sitting at the site, by where one of her parents presumably is,” Mr. Burkett said. “She wasn’t crying, she was just lost. She didn’t know what to do.”