The Surfside disaster was a terrible wakeup call. Will we listen?

The Forward

An unfathomable tragedy is unfolding right now in Surfside, where eleven people are confirmed dead and 150 still missing.

The collapse of an apartment building — without warning, and for reasons that remain unclear — defies expectation. Tragedies like these are moments of shattering. We are praying for the families of those who have perished and that survivors may yet be discovered beneath the rubble.

For Jews, the collapse of the Champlain Towers strikes particularly close to home. Over a third of North Beach, where the building is located, is Jewish — part of a vibrant and diverse community. Florida is home for many of us, a place of family for others, and a cultural locus for the Jewish community across the country and world.

Like many, we are horrified by the unfolding scenes of devastation in Surfside. We know that in the short term, immediate assistance is needed for the victims and their families: this is a tragedy that will reverberate for a long time through the Jewish and the broader Surfside community. To that end, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation has set up an emergency assistance fund that will support those in the community who have been impacted by this tragedy, alongside other local charities. Let us support those who are suffering right now and grieve together, as a community, in this heartbreaking time.

But let us also recognize the urgent need to invest in the resilient infrastructure our communities need to build a future that is safe, equitable, and livable for generations to come.

What exactly caused this tragedy remains uncertain. But we do know that climate change is shifting the ground underneath South Florida in dramatic and destructive ways.