The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) has deployed crisis-trained chaplains to Surfside, Florida, just north of Miami Beach, after a 12-story beachfront condominium building partially collapsed without warning early June 24 around 1:30 a.m. At least 20 people are confirmed dead, and 128 people are still unaccounted for.
“We will continue search and rescue because we still have hope that we will find people alive,” Miami-Dade County mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press conference Friday. “That is why we are using our dogs and our sonar and our cameras—everything possible to seek places where there may still be people to be found.”
The cause of the building’s collapse remains unclear.
“Buildings like this do not fall in America,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Thursday night. “This is a third-world phenomenon, and it’s shocking.”
Bringing a ministry of presence to survivors as well as a shell-shocked community, BG-RRT chaplains are on the ground to offer emotional and spiritual care to those in need.
“As we learn more about this terrible tragedy, our hearts are broken for the residents of this condo who experienced such a devastating event,” Josh Holland, assistant director for BG-RRT, said.
“Our crisis-trained chaplains are available to listen, and we want all of those who were impacted—including the first responders who are part of the search-and-rescue efforts—to know that God still loves them and cares about them, even in the midst of such pain and sadness.”
On Facebook, Franklin Graham encouraged people to pray for Surfside.
“Pray for the family members of those who lived in the building waiting to hear if their loved ones are safe or not. … The Bible tells us, ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46:1).”
As search efforts remain underway, President Biden approved a state of emergency declaration on June 25 from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, officially permitting federal resources, including FEMA assistance, to be directed to Surfside.
Story updated at 12:45 p.m. EST, July 2.
Above: The collapsed condominium building in Surfside, Florida.
Photo: ©2021 Gary Fong/Genesis Photos