SURFSIDE, Fla. — A resident of the collapsed condo tower recalled to The Post on Sunday how he could hear his terrified neighbors screaming, “Help me! Get me out!” as the structure crumbled around them.
Steve Rosenthal, 72, said he first heard the “largest thunderclap” of his life around 1:30 in the morning Thursday.
“Five seconds later, the bed and the room start shaking. I figure OK, I am dreaming,” said Rosenthal, who works in advertising and entertainment, outside a Marriott hotel in Miami Beach set up for the tower’s evacuees.
Then dust started pouring down from his ceiling, so Rosenthal ran into the hallway. There he saw the hall ceiling caved in and heard the cries from his neighbors.
“I hear people yelling, ‘Help me! Help me! Get me out!’” Rosenthal recalled.
“I know these people, these are my neighbors,” the man said. “It is pretty sad stuff.
“You can’t do anything because of all the concrete and everything has fallen down.”
Rosenthal said it is a “miracle” that he managed to escape with his life because every unit in front of his was completely demolished.
“One unit over, and I am gone,” the man said.
Photos that Rosenthal took of the common hallway just outside his door show the pathway blocked by concrete, steel and other debris, sealing it off from the rest of the units on the seventh floor. A long piece of spiked metal that he dubbed the “devil’s fork” hangs from the ceiling.
“I open the door, and that is what I see. It’s like a devil’s fork, and it stopped right here in my unit,” Rosenthal said.
Rosenthal ran back into his apartment to change and grab some belongings because he knew “this is it” — and then waited on the balcony for a rescue team to save him.
“I was scared,” he said, describing how he desperately waved his hands to get the attention of rescue workers.
“All of a sudden I am looking out the balcony, and … there were 40, 50, 60 fire trucks. It was insane. … They’re yelling up to us that ‘you need to evacuate, we’re going to come rescue you.’ ”
Soon enough, firefighters on a cherry picker grabbed him and a couple of others and brought them down to safety.
“Thank God I am alive, I believe my parents were looking out for me,” he said.
Rosenthal had lived in Unit 702 — a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment that faced Collins Avenue — for the last 20 years and was never alarmed about the building’s condition until now.
“I saw the cracks in the balcony, but now that I am seeing these structural engineers’ reports coming … stuff should have been done years ago, and maybe they’re negligent — it is scary to think about,” he said.
He filed a lawsuit against the building Saturday and is currently working with Global Empowerment Mission to assist survivors — an initiative that former Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel donated to.
“So we raised $250,000, and we are giving that money away to survivors directly in cash cards: $1,500 each, and [they] get a box of essentials,” Michael Capponi, the founder of the charity, told The Post.
“We are talking about loss of everything,” Rosenthal added.