With around 150 people still unaccounted for, many families are waiting desperately for an update on their loved ones after a section of the Surfside condo collapsed. Days have passed since 55 condo units of Champlain Towers South came crashing down and rescue teams are still sieving through the rubble to find residents. Among those waiting for news on their missing family members is Jake Samuelson, who is hoping to receive an update about his grandparents, Arnie and Myriam Notkin.
The elderly couple was living on the third floor in apartment 302 of the building’s south wing, according to FOX6. Hours after their home collapsed along with other units of the 12-story building, the couple’s family have been receiving calls from their landline number. As Jake spoke about the mysterious calls, he said this was the number of the landline phone that was placed right next to his grandparents’ bed. But whenever they picked up the phone call, they heard nothing more than static noises.
Several hours after the condo collapsed at around 1:30 am on Thursday, June 24, the family received their first call from Arnie and Myriam’s landline number at around 9:50 pm the same day. “We were all sitting there in the living room, my whole family, Diane, my mother, and we were just shocked and we kind of thought nothing of it because we answered, and it was static,” Jake told WPLG Local 10. By the next day, there were 15 more calls.
Jake revealed that each call left them shaken because they have no idea how these calls are being made from a phone that is somewhere inside the remains of a collapsed condo. “We are trying to rationalize what is happening here, we are trying to get answers,” Jake added. The very last call they reportedly received was on the night of Friday, June 25. All that the family heard was the sound of a busy signal.
When people spoke about Arnie and Myriam, they had only good things to say about the 87-year-old husband and 81-year-old wife. Arnie used to work as a physical education teacher while Myriam was a former banker and real estate agent. “At this point it would be a miracle… we’re hoping for a miracle,” said North Miami Beach Commissioner Fortuna Smukler, who knew the family, according to Miami Herald.
Many of Arnie’s former students remembered the former teacher and spoke fondly of him. “I just remember him being a very well-loved, spunky human being… he had a lot of life in him. Because he loved what he did so much is why we loved him,” said Sandy Arbor, 57. Brian Gadinsky, 64, said, “He was the teacher that if you saw in the hallway, you’d be happy, you’d be smiling. You wouldn’t be looking the other way or try to duck in the bathroom.”
“He never left anybody behind… he wouldn’t tolerate any bullying whatsoever,” Brian added. “A good soul. I mean there’s no better tribute than that.”