They found mementos to witness Hilda's death on Champlain Towers South's sixth floor: an old photo of Hilda with her husband, their infant son, as well as a birthday card that her friends from her prayer group had sent two weeks before. The yellow envelope was covered with a butterfly engraving and the acronym "ESM" was scrawled across it.
Noriega stated, "There was a message within the chaos of all this." It means to not lose hope. To have faith
Hilda is still missing in Surfside, north Miami Beach. Five people have been confirmed dead, and authorities and family members fear that the death toll will rise.
The Noriega family has hope that she will be found alive, even though rescuers continue to use heavy machinery to remove the rubble from the top.
Mike, 36, said that some miracles are large and others small. He last spoke to Hilda on the day before the catastrophe.
They described Hilda, a fiercely independent and vivacious retirede, as Mike said.
Champlain Towers South had been Hilda Noriega's home for over 20 years. Six years after her husband's death she was ready for the move. She was ready to sell the condo and move in with her family.
Hilda loved the beach and her friends but she said that "when you lose your spouse, you want to surround yourself by family" and that she wanted to spend more time with her grandchildren and family.
Sally described Hilda as a sweet and loving woman who had built a life together with her husband, and raised a family since arriving in the U.S.A from Cuba in 1960.
Sally stated that she was "just one of those people who instantly loved the person she met" and that she loved her from the very first meeting.
Carlos Noriega was Hilda's father and the police chief in North Bay Village. He was one of the emergency workers climbing atop the pile.
The Noriegas aren't sure what to do with the precious mementos that were found in the chaos. But Sally stated, "We are a family based on faith." We will leave it at that.
They are one of many anguished families waiting for news on their loved ones' fate. It has been a long wait.
Two people who were present at the briefings in a hotel ballroom on Saturday night for around 200 family members was tense. They told The Associated Press that they could not speak out because of their private conversations.
Two of the two stated that families were frustrated by the slow pace of recovery and demanded they go to the scene to attempt a collective shout. This was an attempt to find survivors and a way to say goodbye to those who have died.
Five people died on Saturday after rescuers battled smoke and fire deep within the heap to save them. They used everything, from sonar equipment and trained dogs to remove the sulfur-like stench that was hanging in the air.
"Our top priority remains search-and rescue and saving as many lives as we can," Miami Mayor Daniella Levine Cava stated.