Mexicans find refuge in Miami after earthquake kills 225

When Tuesday’s magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck, Esther Camhi said she didn’t have a way to communicate with anyone.

Dozens of buildings collapsed into piles of broken concrete in central Mexico. Her building swayed, but was safe enough for her to run out to get into her car. 

“I did not know what was happening until I got in the car and two to three hours later they did let us out and I started hearing it on the radio,” Camhi said. 

Camhi, who lived through the 1985 earthquake killing thousands, was among those who were able to fly out of Mexico City. She landed at Miami International Airport Wednesday morning. The death toll continued to increase. Authorities reported Wednesday afternoon at least 225 people died. 
 
“I was very sad,” Camhi said. 
The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.1 quake was centered near the Puebla state town of Raboso, southeast of Mexico City. A magnitude 8.1 temblor hit Mexico’s southern coast Sept. 7. It was also felt strongly in Mexico City. Seismologist Paul Earle said the epicenters of both earthquakes were about 400 miles apart and most after shocks are within 60 miles. 
Alfredo Coutino, the Latin America director for Moody’s Analytics, said “it is certain that economic activity … will continue to be disrupted for some time.”
 
Francisco Arguedas said he was in Mexico City for business. He managed to escape an office building and headed to the Mexico City International Airport. After exiting his flight at MIA, he said the experience was terrifying. About three dozen buildings collapsed. 
“There is people trapped in those buildings,” Arguedas said. “It is chaos.”
 
Most of the attention Wednesday was around the ruins of the Escuela Enrique Rebsamen primary and secondary school in southern Mexico City. A wing of the three-story building collapsed into a massive pancake of concrete slabs.
Helmeted workers moved around the debris. There as a mix of neighborhood volunteers, police officers and firefighters. They called for silence as they tried to reach a little girl. Dr. Pedro Serrano crawled into a classroom, where he found all of its 25 occupants dead.
 
“We saw some charis and wooden tables. The next thing we saw was a leg and then we started to move rubble and we found a girl and two adults — a woman and a man,” Serrano said. “We can hear small noises, but we don’t know if they are coming from above or below, from the walls above or someone below calling for help.”
There was hope they would find survivors. There were 30 children and eight adults who reportedly vanished. Foro TV reported rescuers asked the girl to move her hand if she could hear them and she did. A search dog confirmed she was alive. 

 
There were tales of heroism all around the city. Alma Gonzalez was trapped in her fourth-floor apartment when the ground floor of her building collapsed. Her neighbors mounted a ladder on their roof and helped her slide out a side window.
 
In the Roma Sur neighborhood, Carlos Mendoza, 30, who was covered with dust and exhausted, said he was involved in an effort to rescue two survivors who were trapped under the ruins of an apartment building. In another part of the city, a human chain formed across four city blocks to move rubble out. 
 
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto declared three days of national mourning. 

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Lyft driver leaves with child in car after misunderstanding, police say

A misunderstanding between a Lyft driver and his passenger ended with the driver leaving with a woman’s child in the car, police said.

The incident took place at 1190 NW 86th Street in Miami.

Miami police Officer Christopher Bess said the mother loaded her items and child into the car and told the driver to wait a moment while she went back inside her home to get a car seat.

Bess said the driver misunderstood her and thought he was taking the child to the intended destination.

The mother came outside to find that the car was gone and called 911.

Police later found the driver at the intended destination — a daycare at 7134 Byron Street in Miami Beach.

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Public housing tenants trapped in parking lot after Hurricane Irma

With a shortage of affordable housing in Miami, leaving Section 8 subsidized housing isn’t something the dozens of residents of the Civic Towers in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood are ready to do.

Some said they paid rent on time Sept. 1. They evacuated during Hurricane Irma, but when they came back they couldn’t get inside. They said the landlord took their money Sept. 15 although they knew they were leaving them homeless.

The residents said Redwood Housing Partners, the owners of the two buildings that the city has deemed unsafe, hasn’t done anything to help them. They fear that if they go to shelters they will end up living in the streets. 

With nowhere to go, the public housing residents have been sleeping in the parking lot of the Section 8 subsidized housing property. Among the residents suffering is a cancer patient, single mothers, several children and their pets. 

Nine hot days after the storm, some families were still sleeping in their cars. Some of them are seeking shelter under tents and umbrellas. The Lion’s Club donated items to help them be a little more comfortable and representatives have talked to officials to try to get them help. 

The City of Miami is in talks with the federal Housing and Urban Development Department, but as of Wednesday morning they still didn’t have a solution. 

 

 

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Opa-locka police officer arrested on aggravated battery charge

An Opa-locka police officer was arrested Monday night in the city of Miami, authorities said.Opa-locka Police Chief James Dobson confirmed that Officer Stanley Jean-Francois has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the c…

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Hurricane Irma crashes Brickell couple’s wedding

Pricilla Gonzalez and Gabriel Garcia have been together for close to two decades. 

They were supposed to get married Sept. 16, but Hurricane Irma forced them to postpone the big day. 

“I was really overwhelmed last weekend really sad and stressed out,” Gonzalez said. 

Storm preparations for the Sunday storm changed all of their plans. And after the storm, their church and the Douglas Entrance reception venue still didn’t have power.

The couple plans to use the same vendors, but decided to change the date to next year. They won’t lose their deposits, but will have to go on their honey moon before their wedding. 

Their family and friends shared their Zola Registry account. The couple was staying positive and Gonzalez joked that they are even considering naming their baby Irma if it’s a girl. 

 

 

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Shake-A-Leg Miami needs help to recover from Hurricane Irma’s destruction

Harry Horgan sailed into South Florida in the 90s after a car crash left him paralyzed. He found a sense of purpose and direction in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood. 

Through Shake-a-Leg Miami he has worked to offer rehab and educational programs that have changed the lives of children and adults with disabilities and their families for more than two decades. 

Hurricane Irma hurt the operation Sunday when it destroyed their dock at the Dinner Key Marina in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood. There was so much damage Horgan got emotional. 

“Coming down and seeing the carnage of everything piled up was just painful and sad,” Horgan said.

The loss of the dock puts Horgan’s work on hold. The dock’s design allowed for universally-accessible sailboats and boats. Replacing it will take time and money.

“We’ve worked with him before and he does fantastic things here,” Dan Martin, a sea tow from Key Biscayne, said. “We love being a part of that and seeing the smiles on all the kids faces.”

Horgan is not giving up, but he needs the public’s help to get the programs back in action. Daniel Kaplan, Matthew Kertesz, Kevin Rodriguez and Sofi Torrents set up a Go Fund Me account for anyone who wants to help. 

The group said all of the donations will go towards navigating SALM out of rough waters and back to smooth sailing. 

“Unfortunately, mother nature threw us a hard hit this time, but we’ve got to get back on-board and we’re asking people to get involved with us,” Horgan said. 

Local 10 News’ Andrea Torres contributed to this report. 

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