Daniel Groves was on vacation with his family in Surfside and was living on the second floor of a hotel next to the Champlain Towers when the collapse occurred.
The family “fell asleep” when the collapse occurred around 1:20 am, he said.
“It literally sounded like a bomb, like it was the loudest thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” Groves told CNN. “The whole building shook. I mean, I felt like we were in the worst earthquake of my life.”
“It shook very hard,” he added.
Groves said he opened the curtains in his hotel room and couldn’t see further than five feet, but noticed a large crack in the glass that had debris penetrated into it. He said he thought they were in a tornado and started yelling at his wife to get up when the alarm went off in the building.
He and his wife packed their children aged 3 and 7, left all their belongings and ran a few blocks away. Groves then videotaped the immediate aftermath of the collapse and still wasn’t sure what had happened. The video shows the pile of rubble and debris polluting the area.
“The scariest. I thought a tornado had literally struck and they just said no, the building is gone,” you can hear him say in the video.
He and his family have since gone to Disney to “get a little joy” after the tragedy.
“It’s not really good. My kids are really shaken,” said Groves. “Flush the toilet, my kids are screaming. … An elevator bell rings, my kids cover their ears. I don’t know what the long-term effects will be.”