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Missing Florida woman was on phone with husband as building came crumbling down

Cassondra “Cassie” Billedeau-Stratton had heard her building's swimming pool collapse before making the frantic call.
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A woman among the people missing from the Champlain Towers South collapse was on the phone with her husband moments after an outdoor swimming pool caved and then the line went dead.

Image: Cassondra “Cassie” Billedeau-Stratton.
Cassondra “Cassie” Billedeau-Stratton.via Instagram

Rescuers still have not found Cassondra “Cassie” Billedeau-Stratton, 40, who was staying on the fourth floor of the doomed Surfside, Florida, condo complex when she frantically called her husband and described the massive sinkhole that had once been the building's swimming pool beneath their unit.

Stratton last saw his wife, a native of Kenner, Louisiana, on Monday of last week when he left south Florida for a business trip to Washington, D.C.

"I was in Washington on the phone with her when the whole thing happened, 1:30 a.m.," Stratton told NBC News on Monday.

Stratton said he's pinning his hopes on search and rescue teams from Israel as they dig through rubble.

"Nothing new, they're just working hard, digging more," Stratton said of the ongoing search efforts Monday afternoon. "These Israeli guys are like excavation commandos and they're doing their thing."

Image: Laraine Memola and Cassondra "Cassie" Billedeau-Stratton.
Laraine Memola and Cassondra "Cassie" Billedeau-Stratton. Billedeau-Stratton is missing from the Surfside, Florida, building collapse.Courtesy Laraine Memola

He added, "They got a lot of people out there digging and scraping and all of that."

Friend Laraine Memola, a 68-year-old New York City resident, said she's struggling to keep her spirits up as the hours pass.

"It's like dangling from a cliff right now," she said.

"She is the picture of life itself," Memola told NBC News late Monday afternoon about Billedeau-Stratton. "She lives life to the very fullest. Whenever I feel down about anything, she lifts me up with positive motivation and inspiration because her zest for life is better and stronger than life itself."

Stratton is a prominent Democratic political consultant. The couple is based in Colorado, but they spent much of the pandemic quarantined at their Surfside condo.

“She was the most fun, vivacious person you could ever imagine,” Stratton told the Miami Herald. “She was full of life, we were always doing something. There are so many interesting places to go in Miami and we took it all in.”

Friends and relatives of the missing Louisiana native said they're still holding hope despite the days that have gone by.

"She is still missing in the rubble of the collapsed building on Florida. Please send her all the love, positive energy, warrior energy, survival and fighting energy you can muster," friend Rashonda Gregory wrote on her Facebook page Friday night. "I’m still holding out hope that she is alive in there."