Florida mayor tells story of girl praying for one of her parents missing in building collapse

At a press conference on Monday, Surfside, Fla., Mayor Charles Burkett told reporters about meeting a girl who was praying for one of her missing parents at the site of Thursday’s apartment collapse.

Video transcript

CHARLES BURKETT: Late last night, I had toured-- and this is on the personal side-- I had toured the site, as I normally do. Usually, I'm there three times a day, in the morning, in the afternoon and evening. And I came across a little girl. She's about 11 or 12 years old.

And I had seen this little girl before. And I know because she was with her mom, and we had talked. And I-- and she have been with her dad. I'm not quite sure. But she-- one of her parents was in that building at the time of the collapse, and the other parent lives a couple buildings away. And she told me she goes back and forth.

When I came across her, she was sitting in a chair by herself, with nobody around her, looking at her phone. And I knelt down and I asked her, I said, so what are you doing? Are you OK? And she said yes. And she said something. And what she was telling me, I never-- it was a-- it was a Jewish prayer. But she was reading a Jewish prayer to herself, sitting at the site by where one of her parents presumably is.

And that really brought it home to me. That-- and she was just-- she wasn't crying. She was just lost. She didn't know what to do, what to say, who to talk to. And I was looking for her this morning at the family meeting, and I didn't see her. But I am going to find her, and I'm going to tell her that we're all here for her, and we're going to do the best we can to bring out that parent.

So anyway, it's horrific. This is disturbing, but that is just a tiny, tiny example of the impact that this collapse has had on our community. Thank you.