Hurricane Elsa Threatens Surfside as Rescuers Worry Damaged Condo Will Collapse

Hurricane Elsa is giving rise to new fears in Surfside, Florida, on Friday, as the storm could hinder rescue operations at the partially collapsed condo building and even lead to a further collapse at the site.

On Friday morning, Elsa was promoted from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned that "interests in Florida should monitor Elsa's progress and updates to the forecast," according to an advisory posted on Twitter.

Here are the 830 AM AST Key Messages for the Special Advisory for Hurricane #Elsa. Hurricane conditions forecast to spread across portions of the southern Leeward Islands over the next few hours. Next complete advisory at 11 AM AST. More info: https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB pic.twitter.com/Ydr80QKK0W

— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) July 2, 2021

"There is a risk of storm surge, wind, and rainfall impacts in the Florida Keys and portions of the Florida Peninsula early next week," the NHC wrote.

Hurricane warnings were issued in Barbados, St. Vincent, the Grenadines and St. Lucia. Heavy rainfall was expected over the Windward and Leeward Islands Friday and in Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Jamaica over the weekend.

Weather.com reported that search and rescue crews have already been evacuated from the site of Surfside's Champlain Towers South, which partially collapsed in the early morning of June 24.

T.J. Lyon, chair of Florida's Statewide Emergency Response Plan, told Weather.com Wednesday that "any bad significant wind could potentially bring down the remaining part of that building."

Lyon added, "Any bad weather is going to have a significant impact on the incident scene."

As of Thursday, the death toll in Surfside had reached 18, with 145 people still missing. Other obstacles have hindered rescue operations, as a fire underneath the debris caused rescue crews to turn back from rescuing a trapped woman in the building.

And now with a hurricane approaching, emergency management teams are preparing to vacate the scene and find shelter until further notice.

"We will make arrangements for our first responders to be located in a safe location within a sensible time frame to allow them to stop operations and locate their equipment in a safe location," Miami-Dade Emergency Management Director Frank Rollason told Weather.com Wednesday afternoon.

"Once the storm clears and it is once again safe to return to the tasks at hand, they would do so. Those safe-harbor plans are being developed as I write this."

Seven of the eight search and rescue crews are reportedly planning to return home in the coming days.

Lyon said, "We see these tropical activities as a significant challenge, and so we're going to work probably through the weekend in pulling our state teams off the pile, giving them a rest, again rebuilding their tool caches and getting them back home so we can get them reset for anything that comes our way."

Newsweek reached out to Rollason for an update but did not hear back before publication.

Over One Hundred Missing After Residential Building
Rescue efforts at the partially collapsed Surfside, Florida, condominium are stopping as the state prepares for Hurricane Elsa. Above, search and rescue teams look for possible survivors and remains on Wednesday. Joe Raedle/Getty Images