‘I can’t get emotional right now.’ Brazilian mom awaiting word on husband, 5-year-old son

·2 min read

For some people facing the unimaginable pain of not knowing what happened to their loved ones after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, building an iron wall around their emotions is the only way to cope.

Raquel Oliveira, whose husband Alfredo Leone and 5-year-old son Lorenzo are among the 149 people still missing in the wreckage of the beachfront building, said she is focusing on “staying alert.”

“Friends, I’m well, I’m calm. I’m trying to avoid thinking about them and instead I’m focusing on what needs to be done,” she wrote on her Facebook page last week, adding she provided a DNA sample to authorities managing the search-and-rescue operations.

She also said Leone’s family would send DNA samples from Spain. Oliveira is a native of Brazil, while Leone is Italian, according to their Facebook profiles.

Oliveira, who works in client relations at the software company SAP in Miami, was visiting her mother in Colorado when the collapse happened. She said she woke up to the news on Thursday.

“I can’t get emotional right now otherwise I will fall apart,” she wrote on Facebook.

Carolina Lara, a friend from Aventura, started a fundraiser on GoFundMe to collect $100,000 to support Oliveira. The campaign, which started on Tuesday, had about $6,400 in donations after four hours.

Lara said Oliveira is taking comfort in the outpouring of support she has received from friends and that her sister is in Miami to help.

“As a mother I can’t even begin to imagine what she is going through,” Lara said.

Another GoFundMe fundraiser created by colleagues at SAP was launched on Thursday and reached nearly $64,000 in donations in five days.

“We are all deeply moved by this incident, hoping, and praying for news of her family soon,” Angela Almaguer, SAP’s head of business events for Latin America and who organized the fundraiser, wrote on GoFundMe.