Army of volunteers assist first responders with food, water in Surfside Florida
[July 2, 2021: Josh Shavit]
The Surfside collapse is certainly not a mystery to the nation. What is lesser known are those groups that are boots on the ground helping outin any way possible. From a hug for an aggrieved victim to a bottle of water for a police officer, helping is a moving target right now.
Attorney Patrick Daniel and his wife, Nicolette Daniel, decided to volunteer at the site of the Surfside condo collapse in the wake of a personal tragedy. Nicolette, the Chief Strategic Officer at Patrick Daniel Law, recently suffered the sudden loss of her mother.
"One day she was there and the next she wasn't," Nicolette said. On seeing the rescue efforts in Surfside on the news, she told Patrick, "I know the pain of shock and fear and I knew what they needed. We cannot be afraid and look away. I needed to say, WE can do this, and you can hold my hand.
"I wanted to try and ease the pain and make even a small difference."
Putting the business at the law firm on hold, Patrick and Nicolette contacted their staff and friends to invite anyone who wanted to try to make a difference to pack their bags, make arrangements, and go to Surfside without a return date.
Unsure of what they could do, what they would encounter and might find, or who to even approach, they started the process. Starting with water, they escalated their efforts based on police, first responder, victim advocate, and fire and rescue requests from the front lines.
Provided by Associated Press Crews work in the rubble Champlain Towers South condo, Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. Many people were still unaccounted for after Thursday's fatal collapse. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
The help progressed based on the specific requests from the brave men and women looking for the victims – over 150 of them unaccounted for at the time. Bottled water turned into gum, deodorant, snacks, energy drinks, sunscreen, lip balm, and ponchos.
The Patrick Daniel Law team partnered with the efforts at Casa Church and went to "ground zero" together. They saw the incident site from a firsthand perspective – it was horrifying, resembling a warzone.
"Nothing I had ever seen was like it," said Patrick Daniel, a catastrophic injury attorney. "It resonated with me and scared me – I cannot imagine the fear experienced by those victims of the disaster."
Patrick, who has handled cases involving traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, amputation, and wrongful death, has been shaken by the devastation at the site of the condo collapse.
"I have seen some really sad things in my time as an attorney," he said, "but nothing compares to what is going here in Surfside."
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