“What can you do?” He was in Paris. His wife was a condo in Surfside, Florida, which began to collapse, 4,500 miles away.

Philip Naim was in an apartment in Paris on early June 24 when he received a call from his wife, who was in a couple’s seaside condominium.

It was midnight Florida surfsideHowever, Margarita Champin heard the sound of shaking her like an explosion.

Naim said he wasn’t a scary type. He knows how to travel for work and take care of himself. But when it’s your loved one, he said it’s completely different. He said trying to help his wife from 4,500 miles away was like a pilot telling you that the plane was failing while you were in the sky. “What can you do?”

He stayed in line when his wife went to check the outside corridor. It was off, but what she could see, such as dust, debris, and drywall, showed that this was more than a fire. Naïm and Champin agreed to call every 5 minutes. He told her to know that this was the only lifeline they had and to make sure her phone was fully charged.

“I think there are all the solutions when you’re there, but when you’re not, you can’t do anything,” says Naïm.

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Naïm searched the internet for information, but there was no news yet. He got the help of his young nephew in Miami. He found a video feed of Champlan South Tower taken from a hotel across the street.

He understood what was happening now: Huge section of the condo It collapsed and pancakes on the ground unthinkably.

In total darkness, Champin found a way to his neighbor’s apartment, which was waiting for evacuation. It took about 25 minutes for the firefighters to rescue Champing and his neighbors on the 8th floor. They had to climb over a pile of rubble to reach the fire ladder.

The photo taken by Margarita Champin shows the view from her 8th floor Champlain Towers South Condo of debris from the collapsed section of the surfside building.[[[[

The photo taken by Margarita Champin shows the view from her 8th floor Champlain Towers South Condo of debris from the collapsed section of the surfside building.[[[[

Naim said he was relieved only when his wife arrived on the street.

His next step was to get home as soon as possible. However, he needed a visa and a COVID-19 test to travel. He was finally able to book a flight on Sunday.

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The couple’s main residence is in Miami, but they have condos on the surfside to enjoy his work and the beach. According to Naim, his wife usually visits only on weekends, but he happened to be there on Tuesday before the collapse because he had been in France for a week.

“I couldn’t understand bad luck,” Naim said. “Too many at the same time”

Given all the hurdles to returning to the United States, Naim didn’t tell Champin that he was on his way home. I didn’t want to fulfill her wishes. Upon arriving at the front door in Miami, Champin thought the doorbell was a 7 pm food delivery.

She joked when they met again. She was running around looking for a $ 5 tip. “Mother Teresa”, Naim calls his wife.

Naim said the twelve on the couple’s floor were still missing. Eighteen people have been confirmed dead and 145 remain unexplained since the building collapsed a week ago. Rescue teams say they will continue to look for the missing, but since last Thursday no one has been recovered.

The tragedy rattled couples, especially champins. But Naim says the idea of ​​losing his wife envisions the value of life.

“It’s not a catastrophe, it’s worse,” Naim said.

This article was originally published in USA TODAY: Florida Building Collapse Survivor Tells the Story of Rescue and Reunion

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