SWFL Urban Search & Rescue crew members return home from Surfside

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Shane Sibert with Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 6. Credit: WINK News.

Rescue crews from Southwest Florida went to the site of the Champlain Towers condo collapse in Surfside. They have worked hard and are returning home.

The families, crew workers and community members are dealing with unbelievable loss, since no survivors have been found since the first hours after the collapse.

When we first went to Surfside to report on the latest updates from the scene, we saw hope.

“I know that there are people there,” Bettina Obias said. “That there are people still trying to stay alive.”

“We believe because of the position of the building he has more possibilities for survive,” Adrianna LaFont said.

LaFont’s ex-husband Manny was among those inside the portion of the condo that collapsed and did not survive.

The initial hope that was seen in the beginning of the catastrophe has dwindled. President Joe Biden noticed the same thing when he visited the site and with families Thursday.

“They’re all realists,” Biden said publicly. “They all look and they see those floors just literally, just cement upon cement upon cement.”

As hope diminished, first responders on scene feel it every day, including Southwest Florida’s very own Urban Search & Rescue Task Force 6.

“It’s grim, but we always have faith that there’s someone we could pull out,” said Shane Sibert with Task Force 6 . “The next step, obviously, recovery, and nobody wants to go there yet.”

That’s how search and rescue crews are built, how they’re wired. As odds get worse, they only work harder.

Sibert told us his team meets the families waiting, the families who no longer hold onto hope.

“All they want to do is pray for us, and we’re here for them,” Sibert said. “And I don’t know how to convey that other than we’re gonna get back out and go to work and either we find or give you closure, and that’s what we wanna do for you.”

The members of Task Force 6 told us they heard loud and clear the support from people in Southwest Florida and greatly appreciate it.

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