Orange County

‘We’re doing our best’: Orlando district fire chief describes recovery efforts in Surfside

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — There are 149 people still unaccounted for in Surfside after the partial condo building collapse.

There is some despair and some desperation, but everyone is pulling together.

“We’re doing our best and sifting through the rubble and hoping for finding a miracle,” said Walter Lewis, who serves as a district chief with the Orlando Fire Department.

READ: Surfside condo collapse: Death toll rises to 12

Lewis and 41 other Central Florida first responders from Florida’s Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 4 have been in Friday searching for survivors.

“We have not had a successful find of alive victims since we have arrived, not our team,” Lewis said. “So we’re disappointed we’re not able to give a family a happy conclusion to their situation.”

READ: Surfside condo collapse: Biden to visit Florida as search for survivors continues

The crews have been relentless in their efforts using all the equipment and technology they have.

They are searching carefully and methodically, and although the local team has not yet found survivors, they have found photos, documents, stuffed animals and other pieces of people’s lives.

READ: Central Florida’s ‘most highly trained’ first responders working to save lives in Surfside

“We’re collecting those items, as best as we can, to help provide some sort of memento or memory for other family members should their loved one is demised,” Lewis said.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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