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‘Best sister ever,’ La. family hopeful to find woman in Fla. condo collapse

Published: Jul. 5, 2021 at 8:00 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Cassie Billedeau-Stratton’s family is staying just blocks from the collapsed condo site in Surfside, Florida as crews continue to sift through the rubble ahead of a potential hurricane landfall.

Big sister Ashley Dean says she was always the protective one.

“Not knowing where she is has been really excruciating for me,” said Dean.

Through a phone app, Dean says she could always check and see what her sister Cassie was up to in Florida... until she couldn’t.

“I even looked at her location during the day that day which is something I don’t do. I saw her around surfside shopping in the harbor doing her daily thing and the next thing I went to it just spun and spun and spun. No location found,” said Dean.

Dean says their family rushed to the site of the building collapse, but in the days since the collapse, crews have yet to find Cassie, one of more than a hundred still unaccounted for.

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“Life feels different it’s a very surreal time the community of surfside is very supportive and I feel very loved and cared for here,” said Dean.

As the painful wait stretches on, Dean found her sister’s picture posted on the surfside wall of hope and memorial, renewing hope as crews imploded the building Sunday night it would give them a better chance to find her sister.

“They’ll be able to get to the underground areas and find people like maybe my sister who is on the fourth floor. We’re still missing so many people. So they’re hoping with this implosion they’ll be able to get in through the basement without having to worry about clearing everyone out and I hope to find some more people, and maybe some kind of miracle,” said Dean.

It’s a race against time as Elsa approaches, a storm Dean sees as a sign.

“Our sister theme was Frozen, and it rings to my ear all the time, ‘do you wanna build a snowman?’ She always came home from Mardi Gras we would always dress up have fun. I would never wanna reference her in the past tense but there’s just been talk getting more unlikely they’ll find survivors, so I do have that little spark of hope that Anna can come back to me, but I want to try and keep here in case I do get the news she’s been found,” said Dean.

More: New Orleans area family keeps watch over south Florida search and rescue efforts

Dean says the wait for news of her baby sister is agonizing, but she says she’ll wait no matter how long it takes.

“She’s just a great human. The best sister ever. It was a dream come true to have such a beautiful happy sister like Cassie,” said Dean.

Dean says she wants to thank everyone back home here for their continued prayers and support.

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