State and local officials, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, said Sunday that learning what caused the collapse of a 12-story condo building in Surfside must take a back seat, for now, to continuing search-and-rescue efforts, but stressed that they are determined to understand what happened.
Miami Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed that the number of deaths has reached nine. Four have been identified and their survivors notified. Family members are briefed several times per day. Volunteer Florida, a state agency, is helping to coordinate assistance. Some 150 people are listed as missing.
“We want, obviously, to get a definitive explanation of what happened and to see what the proper response would be either from the local or state level or even both,” DeSantis said.
“Now, this building was built in the early ’80s. You know, South Florida has some of the most stringent building codes in the country, and so I have a lot of confidence that what’s being built in the here and now are being done very, very well and they would be resistant not only to a thing like this but storms, which we, obviously, are very prone to,” he said.
“It’s something the state has taken very, very seriously but, particularly, South Florida has taken very seriously.”
But the “core” imperatives right now are the search for survivors and assistance to displaced people, DeSantis continued.
“But I do think it’s important we get a definitive explanation,” he said.
Miami Dade County Commission Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz seconded that point.
“Once we understand, I am guaranteeing you legislation will be taking place so this will never happen again,” Diaz said.
The Miami Herald reported on Saturday that an engineer had identified a major design error at the Champlain Towers South structure in 2018 that might have allowed rainwater to undermine the building’s foundation.
Miami Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava praised both the state and federal governments for their assistance.
The county is deploying six to eight squads at any time, assisted by dogs, cameras, and sonar, she said. Workers have cut a trench into the pile measuring 125 feet in length, 20 feet wide, and 40 feet deep, which revealed four bodies and additional human remains, Cava said.
In response to a reporter’s question, DeSantis denied that his deployment of 50 state police officers to the Texas-Mexico boarder has left the Surfside response weakened.
“Those would not be people that would deploy in this situation. Those are, like, Highway Patrol, fish and wildlife, that would have nothing to do with this. And, so, any type of connection you’re making is totally wrong and political,” he said.
The Miami Dade Fire Department is among the best in the world and hasn’t needed state resources, but the state is ready to deploy teams if needed, DeSantis said. However, Israel and Mexico has sent teams to assist, officials said.
Debris is being taken to a warehouse for assessment of any forensic evidence, the governor said.
Officials have offered alternative housing to residents of an identical condo tower nearby, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said.
“I’m not sure everybody’s going to take advantage of that, but that is the state of affairs right now,” Burkett said.
As of Day 4 of the operation, officials have brought in heavy equipment but Fire Chief Alan Cominsky acknowledged that progress is slow even as his teams work shifts around the clock.
Rescue teams are not finding air pockets in which survivors may remain alive, the fire chief said.
“The debris fill scattered throughout, and its compacted — extremely compacted. So, it’s a very slow process where we have to shore, we have to stabilize the best we can as we’re moving through the area. Because, again, if there is a void space, we want to make sure we give every possibility for survivors,” Cominsky said.
He expressed regret that the search for survivors and information about the dead is coming in so slowly. Families “want to know information. They need to know information. But it is a slow process, and it’s a process that has to be done the way its being done. I know that’s difficult, but that is the way it is.”
Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said FEMA search and rescue teams are ready to come to Florida if and when state and local responders call upon them.
DeSantis, a Republican, praised the Biden administration’s Federal Emergency Management Agency for its assistance. FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell attended the news briefing.
FEMA is already registering people who need assistance, she said.
–Michael Moline, Florida Phoenix
As usual DeSantis doesn’t have his priority correct for the State of Florida. He is just doing that to stir up more drama to feed Donald.
He sure doesn’t know how to get re-elected for the benefits of the state he represents. I am sure the victims families will remember that when it is time to vote and bad news spreads fast.
Enough with the Political BS says
The 50 or so FWC/State Troopers being sent to Texas to help support efforts to stop the mass influx of undocumented immigrants/human traffickers/drug smugglers into the US would have ZERO impact on the search and recovery efforts of the Surfside Condo disaster. For anyone to make a connection would be not only politically obvious, it would also be just plain stupid! Does this “journalist” have the guts to tell the truth to the American people that Biden has caused irreparable harm to the immigration system and currently houses more immigrant children in disgusting conditions than any president before him?
What is wrong with a secure border? It’s completely illogical to think an open border is wise, safe or even remotely affordable. I too feel for those fleeing oppression/poverty and corruption in their home country. I am fine with using US resources to actually help Honduras/Guatemala and etc in building a free democratic society where these immigrants would not feel the need to flee to begin with. Instead our government sends billions to these countries only for the corrupt governments to take the money and continue the oppression. The people of those countries need to be strong, to stand up to those regimes and take back their country.
In a perfect world we would all live in harmony. This is not a perfect world. The introduction of synthetic narcotics flowing across the US/Mexico border has killed 100,000’s of Americans. It has destroyed families. That destruction will continue until the wall is more secure. The war on drugs has never had a real victory as we fight it wrong. We need to destroy the manufacturing and distribution channels, not the end user. Stemming the flow into the US is but one step. Our federal government has no real intention of solving a problem. Name one they have every solved?
Desantis has done great work as the FL Governor, anyone who disputes that must learn to look beyond your own political bias and recognize that blue state governors have destroyed small businesses. Severely damaged children’s education progress and god only knows the mental health damage they have done with stupid lockdown policies that have shown time and time again to not work in reducing the spread of a virus. My only complaint with Desantis was how long it took to fix a severely broken Unemployment system, yes he inherited it, though the progress was very, very slow for those who needed it most.
Sometimes we need to just look at the human side of life and recognize what is best for all mankind. Until we can find a way to have a perfect, safe, harmonious world there will always be deadly conflict. Political bias, tech/social media bias/censorship, news media propaganda/intentional misleading headlines do nothing to create a well informed public. It just further divides us!
As for the condo collapse and mass casualty event, it is beyond tragic. I cannot even imagine the magnitude of the heartache and despair that the family and emergency workers must be dealing with. The Oklahoma City Bombing, 9/11, I35W Mississippi Bridge Collapse, and the SF Earthquake come to mind for some level of comparison (admittedly nothing will ever compare to the magnitude of 9/11).
Like most mass casualty events legislation will or must address changes to building codes and inspections. I would not at all be surprised to know that the at the end of the day all of this started with greed. Someone at some stage made a decision to short cut repairs, or needed structural support or circumvented proper processes to avoid this catastrophe to save money. Whether it was building officials being paid off to look the other way during construction, or a builder/developer cutting corners to save money during construction, or paying off inspectors to avoid costly repairs and maintenance of the building. Maybe it was none of that. Maybe it was a sinkhole, though I’ve been in FL my whole life. I cannot recall a naturally occurring sinkhole along the ocean. Maybe it was a wash out/pipe burst type sinkhole (wash out). Maybe it was corrosion of the incapsulated rebar within the concrete support posts? Who knows! Though one thing I do know is there was some sort of warning, some sort of sign ahead of time that was either ignored or missed all together.
One other thing I do know, this better damn well not be made into some political finger pointing at a governor as some dumbass political hack journalist is attempting by asking that stupid question.
The Voice Of Reason says
Gov Photo op desantis,
Thanks for taking a moment out of your non-stop self serving public relations tour to contribute to the dialog here. I’m sure fox news can’t wait for your next appearance. The response to this disaster is moving like a glacier. Your absentee leadership on display again. Just like covid when you took care of your rich supporters with vaccines first. Quit worrying about brown people at the border and “Get To Work” here, in Florida.
@Enough with the Political BS – WOW! Excellent comment and true. Ron DeSantis is doing great job and his ratings keep increasing to prove it. Be glad we don’t have Democrat governors like Gavin Newsom or Andrew Cuomo. Surfside Condo has more then enough help and there is a crisis at the border which the Biden administration doesn’t care about.
It was a disaster under 45 too so what’s your point. He inherited it from Mr Wall builder
Concerned Citizen says
During the 1989 San Francisco Earthquake Airforce PJ’s (Para Rescue) deployed. They were instrumental in rescuing many trapped survivors from freeway passes. That would be a great asset in a situation like this.
What Else Is New says
To the rant from Enough of the Political….. No matter who DeSantis is sending to the Texas border, it is a big mistake. If one is a State officer, then if needed in Miami at the collapse site, those officers should be there. Not in Texas. How is it that Israel and Mexico are sending people to assist with rescue efforts when we are sending our officers away? Makes no sense. DeSantis is just playing his own political game and you know full well that is the case. You say DeSantis has done a good job? Not so. DeSantis, the vote suppressor, racist and one who voted against the Violence Against Women Act, one who refuses to sign the Medicaid expansion even though there are more than 2 million without insurance, many of whom are children, denying the seriousness of COVID-19, untruthful about COVID death numbers, and Trump mimic, has not done a good job. He is so giddy running around the state advertising himself, he forgets his duty to attend to the democracy for Florida citizens. He is also known as DeShameful. Or DeathSantis.
Agree a Political stunt for the Cameras and to make his orange boss happy