The family of the Florida grandparents missing in the aftermath of the Surfside building collapse told The Post Tuesday they are still getting mysterious phone calls from the couple’s landline — at least 20 since the catastrophe.
The New York Post reports that Dianne Ohayon said the family’s latest sliver of hope came early Monday, when her younger sister received a call from their parents, Myriam and Arnie Notkin.
“They’re coming in every day,” Ohayon, 56, said of the eerie calls.
“The last one I have knowledge about was Monday morning, a call came in at about 5:30am. It was static. It’s the same thing every time.”
Ohayon said her nephew, Jake Samuelson, has contacted a Surfside police detective to find out how calls to her sister’s landline can happen as late as five days after the couple’s condo building collapsed Thursday.
“There’s nobody on the line and it’s just static,” recalled Ohayon, who said she picked up one such call late Sunday. “And we wait and we just hang up because nothing changes.”
Ohayon said a caller ID unit on her 48-year-old sister’s phone indicates that the calls are coming from her parents’ line inside their apartment 302 in Champlain Towers South, where the phone was next to their bed.
“My nephew went on camera to try and find answers, raise awareness and maybe find out if other family members in the building were also receiving calls,” Ohayon said, referencing an interview he did with WPLG. “We were just not understanding what these phone calls were meaning. Maybe they were calling for help. We don’t know what they mean.”
It’s unclear where the investigation into the calls stood Tuesday, Ohayon said.
“We haven’t heard back,” she said. “We’re just waiting to hear, we don’t know.”
The slow work of sifting through the remnants of the collapsed Florida apartment building stretched into a sixth day Tuesday, as families desperate for progress endured a wrenching wait for answers.
“We have people waiting and waiting and waiting for news,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters. “We have them coping with the news that they might not have their loved ones come out alive and still hope against hope that they will. They’re learning that some of their loved ones will come out as body parts. This is the kind of information that is just excruciating for everyone.”
The work has been deliberate and treacherous. Thunderstorms rolled through the area Tuesday morning, and debris fell onto the search area overnight from the shattered edge of the part of the building that still stands.
That forced rescuers to mark a “don’t go beyond here” line and focus their efforts on parts of the debris pile that are farther from the structure, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told Miami television station WSVN.
Also Tuesday, the White House announced that President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden would travel to Surfside on Thursday.
Just two additional bodies were found Monday, raising the count of confirmed dead to 11. That leaves 150 people still unaccounted for in the community just outside Miami.
Authorities meet frequently with families to explain what they’re doing and to answer questions.
They have discussed how DNA matches are made to help identify the dead, how next-of-kin will be contacted and explained in “extreme detail” how they are searching the mound, the mayor said.
With that knowledge, she said, families are coming to their own conclusions.
“Some are feeling more hopeful, some less hopeful, because we do not have definitive answers. We give them the facts. We take them to the site,” she said.
“They have seen the operation. They understand now how it works, and they are preparing themselves for news, one way or the other.”
– Additional reporting, Associated Press
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