Biden Supports Federal Inquiry into Surfside Condominium Collapse; The mayor promises to publish all records
June 28, 2021
President Joe Biden backs federal investigation into condominium collapse in Surfside, the White House said on Monday as beach town officials announced a 10th body was found at the site of the disaster .
“He thinks there should be an investigation,” said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary. told reporters during a briefing.
She said some of the federal resources the president sent to South Florida – including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Institute for Standards and Technology, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the FBI – would seek evidence for such an investigation.
“Certainly we want to play any constructive role we can play with federal resources to get to the bottom of this and prevent that from happening in the future,” Psaki said.
There are no immediate plans for Biden to visit the site, Psaki said, but he is being kept abreast of operations at the disaster site.
“We always want to make sure that we don’t tap into local resources. We don’t want to tap into the resources necessary for ongoing search and rescue operations and efforts.”
In Surfside, Miami Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the new body count at a press briefing and added that authorities now have 135 residents. Another 151 people have yet to be identified, she said.
“Our detectives are working in real time, right now, to audit this list. We are still receiving several calls from family members about the same loved ones and the information is coming from various sources,” Cava said.
“I want to stress, as we have been doing from the start, that these numbers are very fluid and will continue to change.”
Governor Ron DeSantis, at the same briefing, said he had met with members of the National Standards Group, sometimes known as NIST, which has investigated disasters including the World Trade Center site in New York City. .
“It’s going to be something big, it’s something that’s going to be very in-depth, and it’s something that won’t happen in a day or two. It’s going to take a long time,” the governor said. .
Meanwhile, the City of Surfside and Miami Dade County are investigating the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South. And Sheriff Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez III admitted during the briefing that a homicide investigation was underway and officers were participating in DNA tests recovered from the site in hopes of identifying the victims.
“I think these investigations could provide us with information maybe a little earlier than NIST, and I think that’s important, because if there are things that need to be done at the state level, we would obviously like to get information as soon as possible, ”DeSantis said.
The governor added, “I think the folks in the state of Florida want to understand how this could happen and what could we do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett has promised to release the city’s records relating to the building. News organizations, including the Miami Herald reported that in 2018, an engineering study revealed major problems in the structure.
“We have had our staff go ahead and digitize every shred of documentation the Town of Surfside has, which includes access to our archival storage sites. We have boxes and we are sending these boxes to a print-scan company, and these documents will be available for your review, ”Burkett told reporters.
Meanwhile, displaced residents are receiving cash and other aid, including mental health counseling, in an emergency shelter, officials said.
CFO Jimmy Patronis, who is the Florida Fire Marshal, said it was the largest search and rescue deployment ever undertaken outside of hurricane responses.
“The same number of men and women who are on the ground right now is the same that was deployed against Hurricane Michael, which was a storm in 12 counties,” Patronis said.
Emergency Management Division Director Kevin Guthrie stressed that state, local and federal governments work closely together. This includes a FEMA response team that Cava requested on Sunday afternoon, he said.
Deputy operations chief Raide Jadallah said researchers brought in heavy equipment to remove large sections of concrete. This led to the discovery of the 10th body, he said.
He ruled out “a misunderstanding” that authorities should cancel the search for survivors at some point.
“This is far from the truth. At the end of the day, there are many variables and facts. It is not based on opinions, it is not based on time, it is not based on a specific area that you just saw on TV that went down, ”Jadallah said. .
“We have to consider all the options. Then, and only then, do we take this information and make a collective decision,” he said.
Jadallah acknowledged family members’ concerns that the process is taking too long, but noted the difficulty and danger the team faces. On Sunday, he said, a worker fell 25 feet from the mound.
“It’s a 12-story building. It’s going to take time,” he said.
Officials are informing family members of the details of the research, including the use of DNA evidence and protocols to notify next of kin, Cava said. In addition, family members gather at the site to personally see the work.
“They have seen firsthand what is being done, and they see that everything that can be done has been done. They recognize how dangerous first responders are and what it took them to get there. , “Cava said.
“They are preparing for the news, one way or another,” she said.
This story was originally published by the Florida Phoenix. For more stories from the Florida Phoenix, visit FloridaPhoenix.com.