Bal Harbour Mayor Gabriel Groisman described the scene at the Champlain Towers collapse as “devastating.” Bal Harbour is around a mile north of Surfside, Florida, where the collapse occurred.
“Frankly, it’s devastating. The site is devastating,” Groisman told CNN’s Ana Cabrera, adding that half of the building is “a pile of rubble.”
Groisman, who toured the site of the collapse with the governor and other elected officials, said what struck him was the silence at the scene.
“What stood out was the quiet,” he said. “To see the building just sitting there in just silence, you know the unfortunate truth of the fact there are many people that are in that rubble and all you hear is silence. And it’s really deafening.”
Officials said search and rescue efforts could take nearly a week. At least 51 people who are assumed to live in the building are unaccounted for, officials said, but it’s unclear if any of them were home at the time of the collapse.
Groisman said he lived in the building from 1983 to 1991 and described it as one “that generally, at least from the outside, seems to be in good condition.”
The community is largely Jewish, Groisman said, and the building is mostly occupied by senior citizens and young families.
Groisman revealed he knows a number of people who are unaccounted for, adding that the community is “tight knit.”