Sunday's demolition of the remains of a collapsed South Florida condo building was necessary to allow searchers to return to the hard work of combing the debris pile, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told Newsmax on Monday.
"The energy level and the anticipation that they're going to rescue people in that rubble is higher than I've ever seen it," Burkett said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "They're all ready to start finding people again. The wait pending demolition was painful for everybody. Nobody likes to stand around thinking there could people they could pull out from that rubble."
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told The Associated Press that the demolition had gone "exactly as planned" at around 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
Parts of the building's underground garage are of particular interest, and searchers hope to get a more clear picture there of voids that could exist in the rubble. Another 121 people remain missing from the Champlain Towers South wing that collapsed on June 24, and 24 people have been confirmed dead.
"The plan was to always get them back on the job, as soon as the smoke was cleared," Burkett said Monday. "I commend Mayor Cava … [she made] a 180-degree turn. That means we've got all of our workers on 100% of the debris pile, now at 100% of full power, looking to pull people out of there. "
There has also been an "immense amount" of correspondence from people who have been worried about pets that were left behind in the building, Burkett said. Search and rescue workers have found no signs of life as far as animals are concerned, even after putting traps on some of the remaining balconies, and Burkett said his hope is that animals escaped when the building collapsed.
But the planned demolition had to happen Sunday before Tropical Storm Elsa makes landfall, and before the remains of the building collapsed the wrong way and covered the rest of the debris, Burkett said.
"The controlled demolition made the building fall in the direction we wanted," he said. "That was the whole idea."
Elsa is expected to spare South Florida from a direct hit, as the latest forecasts are moving the storm west, but strong winds could be in the area by Monday. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Florida because of the storm, making federal aid possible.
National Hurricane Center meteorologist Robert Molleda said the Miami area is expecting "primarily tropical storm force gusts," Molleda said, referring to gusts above 40 mph (64 kph).
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Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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