New Jersey family remembers a miserable escape
After 1:00 am on Thursday, the balcony door of the surfside oceanfront condo unit on the 11th floor of the Aguero family began to rattle.
Albert Aguero and his wife were sleeping in the master bedroom. Their 22-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter saw Netflix’s Spanish teen drama and thought it was the beginning of the trademark South Florida summer thunderstorm.
A few minutes later, Aguero woke up with a loud noise. The wall of the apartment shook. The unit’s chandelier and pendant lights shook violently. His wife, Janet, jumped out of bed to check out their children.
Aguero looked out the window and saw what looked like gray smoke. It wasn’t until he came out on the balcony that he realized that it was something completely different: just a piece of concrete dust.
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Champlan Towers South had collapsed.
“We opened the apartment door when we really understood what had happened. I looked to the left and honestly there was nothing,” Aguero told USA Today. “The apartment on our left was cut in half. I was looking forward to the elevator directly opposite us and there were only two holes.
“I shouted to my wife,” We may not be out of this yet. ” ”
They grabbed their wallets and phones, left behind other belongings, and ran down the stairs where one wall was lost. They realized that the rest of the building could soon collapse.
“We were competing with time,” Aguero said.
When they found an elderly woman struggling to get down the stairs, they arrived on the third floor. Aguero and his son, Justin Willis, guided her and helped protect her from the potential influx of falls and other inhabitants seeking safety in difficult situations.
According to Aguero, they arrived on the ground floor, which appeared to be sunk three to four feet. They reached the pool deck over jagged concrete and debris.
Willis, a baseball player at the University of Connecticut, gently pulled the woman to a safe place across broken tiles and small openings. They rushed from the pool deck to the beach and feared that the rest of the high-rise apartments would soon collapse.
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Aguero said he and his family were still upset by the challenges of Thursday morning.They live full time Located outside New York City in northern New Jersey, we frequently visit family-friendly condos for short or weekend vacations.
Like Miami, condominium buildings are a mix of cultures, ages and backgrounds. Downstairs of the Aguero family unit, some members of Paraguay’s first family occupied one unit. Leticia Roberti, a spokesman for the Consul General of Paraguay in Miami, told USA Today.
The Aguero family didn’t know their neighbors well, but they always exchanged friendly waves. He said it was a safe and compassionate community where residents wore masks in honor and kept a distance, even during the pandemic.
Before and after:See the partially collapsed Florida building, Champlain Towers South
Aguero and his family remain in South Florida with support from the Red Cross. They will return to New Jersey on Monday or earlier if they can arrange an earlier flight.
Aguero is worried because he is waiting for words about his neighbor. He is also grateful.
“I’m sure I’ve been given a second chance in my life,” Aguero said. “We want to get the most out of it.”
Ken Alltucker is published on Twitter as @kalltucker or can be emailed to [email protected]