A Brazilian woman whose husband and 5-year-old son are missing in the deadly Florida building collapse is reportedly focused on “staying alert” during the agonizing wait – as family members of two people who died in the tragedy mourn their loves ones.
Raquel Oliveira’s husband Alfredo Leone and son Lorenzo are among the 149 people still missing in the pancaked remains of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, where the death toll stood at 12 early Wednesday.
She told the Miami Herald she was intent on “staying alert” as search-and-rescue efforts enter their seventh day.
“Friends, I’m well, I’m calm. I’m trying to avoid thinking about them and instead I’m focusing on what needs to be done,” Oliveira wrote on her Facebook page, adding that she provided a DNA sample to officials in charge of the painstaking operation.
The native of Brazil, was visiting her mother in Colorado when tragedy struck, said her Italian husband’s family would send DNA samples from Spain, according to the news outlet.
“I can’t get emotional right now otherwise I will fall apart,” Oliveira wrote on Facebook.
Her pal Carolina Lara launched a GoFundMe fundraiser that raised about $6,400 in donations after four hours, the Herald reported.
Lara said her anguished friend was taking comfort in the outpouring of support she has received from friends and that her sister is in Miami to assist.
“As a mother I can’t even begin to imagine what she is going through,” Lara told the paper.
Meanwhile, friends and relatives mourned the death of 52-year-old Marcus Guara, whose wife and young daughters remain missing, according to the Herald.
“He didn’t stay mad at anyone for very long,” the South Florida native’s childhood friend Jeff Keller wrote on Facebook. “That’s who he was.”
Guara’s body was pulled from the rubble on Saturday, while his wife, Anaely Rodriguez, 42, and daughters, Lucia Guara, 11, and Emma Guara, 4, are still missing.
His cousin Peter Milián told the Herald that the family is “extremely grateful” to the first responders, saying, “We’re realistic, but we always pray for a miracle.”
Guara worked for New York-based bed and bath textile company Kassatex, whose founder and CEO Ernesto Khoudari said his former regional sales manager was an “amazing asset to the team.”
“From the moment he started working with us, his creativity, vivacity for the business, charming smile, and never-give-up attitude fueled his passion for our company, and his relationships he made along the way,” Khoudari told the outlet in a statement.
Another of the 12 victims who have been identified is 50-year-old Michael Altman, whose body was recovered Monday.
His son, Nicholas, 23, who lives in Boca Raton with his brother, Jeffrey, 22, told the Herald that his dad was born in Costa Rica, but moved to the US with his parents when he was about 4 years old.
He told the paper that his father, an accountant, was a “very loving guy. Always smiling. He was very fun and loved to tell jokes.”
“He was a warm man. He conquered a lot of obstacles in his life, and always came out on top,” Nicholas said. “He always inspired my brother and I to be successful in life.”
He added: “He was a great father, and a great son to my grandparents.”