Over the course of the next month, as our first responders continued to pull victims of this tragedy from the rubble, the incredibly painful, difficult job of identifying those lost fell on the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's Office, who demonstrated professionalism, grace, and compassion in equal measure until every victim was identified and every next of kin notified. In total, 98 victims would ultimately be pulled from the rubble - with each one signifying an unspeakable loss for all of those who loved them.
The story of Surfside is a complicated one. First and foremost, it is a story of unimaginable loss, grief, and pain for so many. However, through that same loss, grief, and pain - another story, one of Miami-Dade County and the character of its people, came into sharp focus. It was a story written by the everyday men and women of our community who summoned the courage and resolve to face incredible challenges and to do things that have never been done before. Like the first responders who arrived at the scene and ran directly into the collapsed building to usher survivors to safety, and who put their own lives on the line in doing so. Or the small businesses that donated food, water, and supplies in support of the mission despite the incredibly difficult times they were already faced with as a result of the pandemic. Most importantly, the story of Surfside was written by those who lost their loved ones or their homes, who displayed unimaginable grace and strength throughout - offering support to one another, allowing us to mourn their loss with them daily, and providing a source of strength to our entire community.
The tragedy in Surfside taught us so much about who we are as a community. More than anything, it showed us the common and unyielding good nature of our people.