Biden heads to Florida in wake of building collapse

At least 11 people have been killed and 150 are missing, while search and rescue teams continue the race to find the missing. No survivors have been found since last week.

“They want to thank the heroic first responders, the search and rescue teams, and everyone who worked tirelessly around the clock, meeting the families who had to endure this terrible tragedy waiting in pain and heartbreak for a word I love,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday, to deliver Comfort them as search and rescue efforts continue.

“They want to make sure that state and local officials have the resources and support they need under the president’s emergency declaration for Miami-Dade, Florida,” Psaki continued.

A White House official said the administration was coordinating closely with officials in local and state departments ahead of Biden’s visit to Florida on Thursday to ensure that no resources used in the search and rescue operation were diverted.

Typically, local police and fire departments participate in a presidential visit to secure roads and stand by in the event of an emergency. The White House has received assurances that teams on site in the apartment collapse will not be pulled away from Biden.

It also has to be determined if he will meet with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who toured the site with FEMA Director Dean Cresswell this weekend.

Biden spoke to DeSantis by phone last weekend.

The president will consider the recommendations of the Federal Safety Commission as he directs the federal government’s investigation into the cause of the collapse.

Psaki told reporters on Tuesday that Biden will use the board’s findings to determine how to better bolster infrastructure such as apartment towers against catastrophic failure.

“They have announced that they have sent a team of six scientists and engineers to gather first-hand information on the towers, in the collapse of the South Champlain Towers, which will be used to determine if an investigation or study will be conducted,” Psaki said in response to a question. Question from CNN’s Ally Malloy. “So this is obviously going to be something the president will support and certainly we’ll be looking forward to that if this is a decision that’s made to see how we can help protect infrastructure across the country.”

The president issued an emergency proclamation to allow federal aid, and on Friday said his administration is doing everything it can to help those affected.

The cause of the collapse remains unknown, but a letter sent months before the fatal collapse warned that damage to the building was accelerating after a 2018 report raised concerns about structural damage.

Biden spent the weekend with his family at Camp David, but officials said the president received briefings every day by phone and from roving National Security Adviser Johannes Abraham.

Surfing mayor Charles Burkett told CNN’s John Berman on “The New Day” that there were “waves of men and women” involved in the search and rescue effort for the collapsed building. He said there were concerns about debris falling at the site.

On Tuesday, Criswell said the damage to the site was “hard to put into words.” She praised local rescue efforts and also noted that FEMA is on the ground and has a recovery center working with families and loved ones affected by the collapse.

“Our thoughts are with all the families and loved ones who have been affected by this event,” Cresswell said at a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

This story has been updated with additional information.


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