The bodies of two children, 4 and 10 years old were found in the rubble of the collapsed condo building outside Miami on Wednesday, and was announced in an afternoon news conference by Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. This discovery, with the finding of four additional victims earlier in the day raises the death toll in the disaster to eighteen.  The number of missing people is now at 145.

“Any loss of life, especially given the nature of this unexpected, unprecedented event, is a tragedy,” Levine Cava said.  “But the loss of our children is too great to bear.”

As families cling to fading hope, search officials vowed to press on with the rescue effort around the clock despite the possibility of tropical storms approaching the area.

The massive search and rescue operation is in its seventh day on Wednesday as crews continue to carefully comb through pancaked piles of debris in hopes of finding survivors.

Since a huge section of the Champlain Towers South building fell to the ground early Thursday, an ever-growing virtual army of volunteers has been offering everything from water and energy drinks to pizza and deep-fried Oreos to firefighters, police officers and other rescue workers working 12-hour shifts at the site.

Also, several churches near the disaster site, got to work handing out refreshment to first responders within hours of the building collapse last Thursday.  

At Casa Church near the disaster site, Pastor Ezequiel Fattore got to work handing out refreshments to first responders within hours of the building collapse last Thursday.  “We had them in the fridge and we started with those,” said Fattore, whose congregation soon started pitching in to help. “A couple of hours later, I was at Costco spending $600. Those were the first donations.”

In a side room at Fattore’s church on Tuesday, cases of water were stacked four high, along with a large assortment of energy drinks, bottled iced coffees and bags of chips and other snacks.  As volunteers packed coolers to distribute among police and emergency crews in the area, a van pulled up to offload more refreshments.

Fattore said he’s had heartbreaking conversations with loved ones of those dead and missing.  Some members of his church have friends still unaccounted for.

Fattore said the outpouring from volunteers from his church and other churches, as well as individuals has reaffirmed his faith.  “It gives hope for humanity,” he said.

In the church’s parking lot, Robert Martinez and his crew of three busied themselves frying chicken tenders and Oreos in Martinez’s circus-themed food truck.  Martinez said they’d brought enough to feed 350 people.
Once we got the call to come help out and do whatever we can, there was no decision to make,” Martinez said. “It was like, `Let’s go!’”

Our prayers are with all the family and friends of the lost and unaccounted for.  Also, for all the volunteers for their help and assistance.  This is an ongoing and developing story and will be updated as deemed necessary.

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