, Fla. (AP) — Families around the world were caught between fading hopes and growing fears on Saturday, two days after a 12-story condominium near Miami collapsed.
Rescuers continued to search through the rubble of the Champlain Towers South
in Surfside, which housed an international mix of foreign retirees, South American immigrants, and Orthodox Jews, all with worried loved ones around the world.
Some of their stories are as follows:
RICKY ROVIROSA & MARIA THERESA
According to longtime friend Monika Mucarsel Gressier, Maria Theresa and Ricky Rovirosa are a "perfect match" who help each other and others.
The couple raised two grown children
in their South Miami home and used their Surfside condo as a part-time summer getaway. Gressier met Maria Theresa, whom she called Maituca, through work
while living in California
“We became instant friends,” Gressier wrote in a text message. “She was one of the reasons that gave me security
and support for accepting a relocation to live in Miami. Maituca became my family
support and always gave me and others the resources and guidance to navigate the city of Miami.”
Gressier described Ricky as charming and his wife as "stunningly beautiful" on the inside and outside.
“When I think of them, I remember one of my favorite memories of watching them dance salsa
and how loving they were always to each other,” Gressier wrote. “I am praying and hoping that they will survive this tragedy, as I know the strength, they both carry within, and I also know that their tremendous love for their girls and family will keep them fighting to survive this.”
CASSONDRA BILLEDEAU-STRATTON's formal name is CASSONDRA BILLEDEAU-STRATTON.
Cassondra Billedeau-Stratton, 40, has worked as an actress, model, and Pilates instructor, bringing a "vivacious love of life to everything she does," according to her husband.
“Cassie is a wife, mother, and true friend to so many,” said Michael Stratton, a Democratic
political strategist from Colorado
, who told Denver
’s KMGH-TV that he and his wife spent much of the coronavirus pandemic
in the condo they had owned for four years.
According to her sister, Stephanie Fonte, Billedeau-Stratton enjoyed walking and biking along the beach, and she would often make the sisters pose
on the beach or near a burst of flowers when they were together.
Michael Stratton stated that the building collapsed while he and his wife were on the phone.
“She described the building trembling and then... the phone went dead,” he explained.
ILIAN NAIBRYF is a fictional character created by ILIAN NAIBRYF
According to Rabbi Yossi Brackman of the University of Chicago
's Rohr Chabad, Ilian Naibryf has been an active member of the Jewish
community at the university for three years.
Naibryf, who had just completed his junior year, had been the president
of the Chabad House's student board for the previous year, and he and his girlfriend were in Florida
to attend the funeral of a friend who died of COVID-19
, according to his parents.
“He is a really great guy, very friendly, always has a smile on his face, and is just a really well-liked person in general,” Brackman said.
The Rohr Chabad community, according to Brackman, is distraught but hopeful.
“Our message is one of hope, and we encourage everyone to pray and be kind during this difficult time for many people
,” he said, adding that “we believe in miracles, have witnessed them, and hope to see them again.”
MYRIAM CASPI NOTKIN and ARNOLD NOTKIN are the names of MYRIAM CASPI NOTKIN and ARNOLD NOTKIN, respectively.
According to a family friend, Myriam Caspi Notkin, 81, and her husband, Arnold "Arnie" Notkin, 87, married around 20 years ago after losing their spouses.
“They were a happy couple. We're hoping for a miracle,” said Fortuna Smukler, a North Miami Beach
commissioner who grew up with Myriam Notkin's three daughters and remembered her friendship
with Smukler's mother, who died 40 years ago, when they ran into each other as adults.
“Every time Myriam saw me, she had to make a point of telling me how wonderful my mother was,” Smukler said.
Smukler also knew Arnie Notkin, who was a physical education
teacher and coach at Leroy D. Fienberg Elementary School in South Beach in the 1960s, and who had an engaging personality and a story to tell.
“He had famous students, and he had to tell me about them, how good or bad they were,” she explained.
This report was contributed to by Associated Press
writers Travis Loller in Nashville
, Colleen Slevin in Denver, Don Babwin in Chicago, Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia
, and Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire