Daughter of condo collapse victim reacts to new evacuation

Southeast

(NewsNation) — In Florida, residents are waiting to learn when they’ll be able to return home after they were forced to vacate their Miami Beach condo building immediately Thursday night because of structural damage.

An engineer discovered one of the main support beams at The Port Royale, identified for repair 10 months ago, had shifted and that a crack in the beam had expanded. Other structural supports may also be in need of repair as well, according to the structural engineering report at the 14-story condo that is less than two miles from the site of the Champlain Tower South condo that collapsed in June of 2021, killing 98 people.

Now, 16 months after the Surfside collapse, an investigation into the incident that sparked the largest non-hurricane emergency response in the area’s history is still ongoing, leaving some families feeling forgotten.

Rachel Spiegel, who lost her mother Judy Spiegel — a devoted philanthropist, mother and grandmother — in the collapse, said she was happy to hear the news that everybody in the Port Royale building was evacuated safely.

“I only could wish that that would have been the case for my family. You know, my dad was on business on a business trip when the building collapsed and my mom was in the building. And it’s been the most terrible, tragic experience. And if we had known and if there was a warning, you know, it would have saved my mom’s life and then 97 others,” Spiegel said.

However, Spiegel did say that with this latest evacuation, she isn’t necessarily surprised and believes that there will be many more buildings that need repair.

“I think that, you know, ours was obviously the first one and hopefully the only one that will have significant damage. But I think that it’s really incredible, even though it was identified 10 months ago —clearly, there was something very important that happened, or very significant that happened — that they made everybody evacuate, or they asked everybody to evacuate,” Siegel said.

Siegel hopes the collapse in 2021 brought a lot of awareness and can save lives in the future.

“I think it’s so important to keep our community safe, keep our families safe. Now that … we have more awareness of what happened in Surfside, we really need to do whatever we can to keep everybody else safe and spread that awareness, and take very strong action when things aren’t right,” Siegel said.

Siegel said life isn’t the same without her mother. She said her mother was the best person in her life and she feels robbed of the family’s matriarch.

“Life has been extremely hard the past — just over a year. It’s been terrible, really. So if there’s anything that can be done to help prevent this, you know, it needs to be done. It’s really not an option. It should be done. … My mom would be proud, knowing that I’m advocating to help others from this tragedy,” Siegel explained.

The AP contributed to this report.

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