For those who survived the collapse of the Champlain Towers building in Miami, the scene of the ruins not only causes them pain because of what happened with their friends and neighbors, but also a common emotion in this type of episodes, as is survivor’s fault.
From a man who advanced a trip to a young man who decided at the last minute stay over at his girlfriend’s, the stories of residents who were not in the building the night of the tragedy only seemed to have randomness as a common factor.
Jay Miller, a 75-year-old retired academic, lived in the housing complex for 3 years. Originally from Philadelphia, every year he took a trip in the summer to spend a few months in that city, where he still had a house and where most of his friends lived.
Images of rescuers searching through the rubble of the collapse. Photo: AFP
Usually I would leave Florida in late June, but this year decided to advance his trip because he had to sell his house. In the days before traveling, he had the impulse to change the date of the train ticket to stay a few more days at the beach, but in the end he decided to go ahead with his original plan.
“Why wasn’t I in my apartment? At that time, it would have been the place where I would have been. I made a decision to travel, and I wasn’t there when it happened,” he explains in an interview he gave to the newspaper. The Washington Post.
Miller said he found out about the collapse by watching the news on his cell phone. “First I saw that it was a building in Miami, and then I saw that it was in Surfside. I thought it was just where I lived, and then I went on a little more, and I saw that on 88th Street, and I said ‘it’s very close to where I alive. ” I finally saw that it was 8777, and I knew it was my building “, he detailed.
Soon after, he began receiving messages from friends asking him where he was. It was only from their testimonies that they told him what had happened that he became aware of the catastrophe, and how close it had touched him.
Image of the collapsed building and the wing that remained standing. Photo: EFE
On the news channels, he began to see photos of his friends and neighbors among whom appeared as missing. People with whom he chatted and shared daily moments.
“When you lose a friend, it’s a normal cycle of life,” Miller said. “But when you have all those people, and you see that people have died that you should have been with and you weren’t, it’s really shocking and you think: ‘I should have had to be there ‘“.
Miller decided to postpone the sale of his home and stay in Philadelphia for now, taking advantage of the community of friends he has. Despite the tragedy, wants to go back to Miami and spend your retirement there.
A last minute decision
Erick De Moura got up at 5:30 in the morning to go to the bathroom when he remembered that he had to look for his cell phone to set an alarm for the next day. He was at the house of his girlfriend, Fernanda Figueiredo, and saw that he had a text message from a caretaker in his building.
“How lucky you are alive“, the woman replied to De Moura when the man called her to ask what was wrong.
Erick De Moura and his girlfriend, Fernanda Figueiredo, survivors of the collapse in Miami. Credit: Erick de Moura
The woman explained that the building had collapsed, and sent her a photo of the ruins and rubble. Incredulous and shocked, De Moura got into his car and drove to the scene of the tragedy to see with his own eyes what had happened.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” he told The Washington Post. “It’s amazing to see the place you’ve been living in for the past three years and considered my home, collapsed to the ground like that.”
De Moura stayed to sleep at the girlfriend’s after a meeting with friends ended late after watching Brazil’s match against Colombia for the Copa América. It wasn’t normal for me to do that on a weekday, and he did it only after she insisted a couple of times.
De Moura says that from now on he has been feeling angry and confused, and that he has not yet been able to cry. Despite the tragedy, he returns twice a day to the scene of the disaster, as it is the only place in Miami where he felt safe and familiar.
“I feel like I’m in a dream, in a bad movie,” he confessed. “For me and for Fernanda, this was a miracle. An act of God. “