Biden tells households affected by Florida apartment collapse to 'by no means hand over hope'

SURFSIDE, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden drew on his personal experiences with grief and loss to consolation households affected by the Florida apartment collapse, telling them to “by no means hand over hope” even because the seek for survivors paused early Thursday, per week after the constructing got here down.

Addressing among the households touched by the tragedy, Biden spoke in deeply private phrases as he supplied his prayers and help within the personal assembly.

“I simply want there was one thing I might do to ease the ache,” he stated in a video posted on Instagram by Jacqueline Patoka, a girl who was shut to a few and their daughter who’re nonetheless lacking.

It got here on a tumultuous day within the search course of. Rescue efforts had been known as off till 4:45 p.m. over security considerations. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava stated Thursday night time they had been starting to plan for the constructing’s demolition. She stated engineers had been making an attempt to orchestrate it to attenuate the influence on the encompassing space and the search web site.

Former Miami-Dade hearth chief Dave Downey is main the Worldwide Hearth Chiefs Affiliation’s City Search and Rescue staff. He informed NewsNation Prime they might not relaxation till the job was carried out.

“We will be right here until we get better each final individual,” he stated. “The aim of the rescuers is to deliver closure to those households, we hope that we will deliver a survivor.

US President Joe Biden speaks in regards to the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South apartment constructing final week in Surfside, Florida, following a gathering with households of victims in Miami, Florida, July 1, 2021. – President Joe Biden flew to Florida on July 1 to “consolation” households of individuals killed or nonetheless lacking within the rubble of a beachfront residence constructing, the place hopes of discovering survivors had all however evaporated. Biden and First Girl Jill Biden left the White Home early for the flight to Miami, after which traveled by motorcade to close by Surfside, the place the dying toll within the tragedy now stands at 18, and greater than 140 nonetheless unaccounted for. (Picture by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Picture by SAUL LOEB/AFP by way of Getty Pictures)

Few public figures join as powerfully on grief as Biden, who misplaced his first spouse and child daughter in a automobile collision and later an grownup son to mind most cancers. Within the first months of his time period, he has drawn on that empathy to console those that have misplaced family members, together with the greater than 600,000 who’ve died within the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a quiet voice freighted with emotion, Biden on Thursday described his personal despair at having to attend to search out out about how household fared after a disaster just like the one skilled in Surfside. He spoke of wanting to change locations with a misplaced or lacking beloved one and lamented that “the ready, the ready, is insufferable.”

“The folks you could have misplaced — they’re gonna be with you your entire life,” he informed the households. “Part of your soul, part of who you’re.”

Biden informed the households that it may be “tougher to grieve in public than it’s in personal, so I do know there’s an additional burden on you all.”

“However I promise you: I nonetheless imagine in prayer,” he stated. “You’re in my prayers.”

The president, whose remarks had been translated into Spanish, urged the households to “by no means hand over hope,” even because the search and rescue operation paused early as a result of structural considerations with the remaining portion of the constructing.

Attendees could possibly be seen with tears of their eyes as Biden closed out his remarks, and he and spouse, Jill, spent the following few hours visiting privately with the households.

President Joe Biden attends a briefing in Miami Seashore, Fla., with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Thursday, July 1, 2021, on the collapsed apartment tower in Surfside. (AP Picture/Susan Walsh)

Amid the pause in looking Thursday, Biden, responding to what seemed to be the deadliest calamity of his younger presidency, was to survey the devastation and meet with first responders looking for survivors among the many rubble in Surfside.

“That is life and dying,” Biden stated a briefing in regards to the collapse. “We are able to do it, simply the easy act of everybody doing what must be carried out, makes a distinction.”

The president stated he believed the federal authorities has “the ability to choose up 100% of the associated fee” of the search and cleanup and urged the native officers to show to Washington for help.

“You all realize it, as a result of loads of you might have been by it as nicely,” Biden stated. “There’s gonna be loads of ache and nervousness and struggling and even the necessity for psychological assist in the times and months that observe. And so, we’re not going wherever.”

Biden was briefed on the state of affairs with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Levine Cava. The mayor saluted the efforts to cross occasion traces in a time of “an unprecedented devastating catastrophe” and added that the unified authorities and neighborhood response “is what provides us hope.”

President Joe Biden listens throughout a briefing with first responders and native officers in Miami, Thursday, July 1, 2021, on the apartment tower that collapsed in Surfside, Fla., final week. (AP Picture/Susan Walsh)

DeSantis, a rumored Republican 2024 presidential candidate, stated to Biden that the “cooperation has been nice,” declaring that the administration has “not solely been supportive on the federal degree, however we’ve had no forms.”

As Biden pledged federal assist, he touched DeSantis’ hand to underscore the purpose.

Later, the president was anticipated to satisfy with first responders who’ve labored across the clock on a rescue effort that has stretched into its second week amid oppressive warmth and humidity and frequent summer time storms. He was additionally anticipated to satisfy for a number of hours with relations of these affected by the collapse earlier than delivering remarks Thursday afternoon.

Biden, whose private expertise with tragedy has been an indicator of his political profession, will reprise the function of “consoler-in-chief” whereas rescue groups seek for victims within the rubble of the high-rise. Levine Cava harassed that Biden’s go to had nothing to do with the pause in operations.

The go to comes only one week after Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium constructing in Surfside, all of the sudden got here crashing down, leaving a pancaked rubble.

Search crews going by the ruins discovered the stays of six folks together with two youngsters Wednesday, bringing the variety of confirmed lifeless to 18.  One other 145 persons are lacking and feared trapped within the rubble.

No person has been pulled alive from the mounds of pulverized concrete, splintered lumber and twisted metallic for the reason that early hours of the catastrophe within the oceanfront city of Surfside, adjoining to Miami Seashore.

Peter Milián is a cousin of Marcus Guara, who died alongside together with his spouse, Anaely Rodriguez, and their two youngsters, 10-year-old Lucia Guara and 4-year-old Emma Guara. Milián stated he understands why the rescue work needed to be quickly halted and is assured search efforts will proceed.

“I imply, they’ve carried out every thing they will. However we belief the folks which might be on the bottom. And clearly, they’ve obtained to do what’s finest for his or her folks, proper? As a result of it’s a harmful state of affairs,” he stated.

Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez stated he hopes Biden’s go to shall be a morale booster for the complete neighborhood.

SURFSIDE, FLORIDA – JUNE 30: Search and rescue groups search for attainable survivors and stays within the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South apartment constructing on June 30, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. Over 100 persons are being reported as lacking because the search-and-rescue effort continues. (Picture by Michael Reaves/Getty Pictures)

“We’ve had a number of challenges from climate, sorrow, ache. And I feel that the president coming will deliver some unity right here for our neighborhood, help, like our governor, our mayor, all of us collectively,” he stated.

White Home press secretary Jen Psaki stated the president and first girl additionally wish to ensure that state and native officers have the assets and help they want underneath an emergency declaration authorised by Biden for Miami-Dade. She emphasised that the White Home is being cautious to coordinate with officers on the bottom to make sure that Biden’s go to doesn’t do something to “draw back” from the continuing search and rescue effort

State Hearth Marshal Jimmy Patronis stated he hopes to emphasise to Biden that there’s a want for psychological well being assets to deal with rescue employees for post-traumatic stress dysfunction.

“These guys are so blindly centered on the mission of saving lives, and sadly they see issues they will’t unsee,” Patronis stated.

“We wish to ensure that once they finally do go house, that we’re giving them the power … to have the ability to get again to work with out concern of nightmares and challenges.”

For the reason that tragedy, Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, and Levine Cava, a Democrat, have projected a united and cooperative entrance as they reply to the disaster.

Beforehand, that they had generally sparred over how finest to answer the coronavirus outbreak, with clashes over carrying masks and different measures to regulate the pandemic. However no indicators of partisanship have been evident in Surfside.

DeSantis has spoken appreciatively of the help coming from Washington, even commending the Biden administration for “stepping as much as the plate.”

Rescue employees dig by the rubble with the help of a backhoe at web site of the collapsed condominium in Surfside, Fla., Monday, June 28, 2021. (Jose A Iglesias/Miami Herald by way of AP)

The reason for the collapse is underneath investigation. A 2018 engineering report discovered that the constructing’s ground-floor pool deck was resting on a concrete slab that had “main structural harm” and wanted intensive repairs. The report additionally discovered “considerable cracking” of concrete columns, beams and partitions within the parking storage.

Simply two months earlier than the constructing got here down, the president of its board wrote a letter to residents saying that structural issues recognized within the 2018 inspection had “gotten considerably worse” and that main repairs would value at the very least $15.5 million. With bids for the work nonetheless pending, the constructing all of the sudden collapsed final Thursday.

Biden delayed his go to to Florida to keep away from interrupting rescue efforts. He has issued an emergency declaration and offered state and native officers with federal help to assist reply to the collapse.

Thursday’s journey marks the second time since Biden grew to become president that he has paid a go to to the scene of a catastrophe.

In February, he traveled to Texas after a strong winter storm left hundreds of thousands with out energy or clear water for days and killed a number of folks.

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