President Biden Pledges Federal Aid After Surfside Condo Collapse

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President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit memorial wall covered in flowers and photos of the missing after the Florida condo collapse Thursday, July 1, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden traveled to Surfside, Miami, on Thursday, July 1, to visit with the families of victims of the collapsed Miami-area condominium tower.

Biden told the families that it can be “harder to grieve in public than it is in private, so I know there’s an extra burden on you all.”

“But I promise you: I still believe in prayer,” he said. “You’re in my prayers.”

Biden has offered federal help and extended his concerns to the community as people “grieve their lost loved ones and wait anxiously as search and rescue efforts continue,” as he said in one tweet.

A White House news release said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been directed to provide equipment and resources needed at the Champlain Towers complex in Surfside, where the 12-story building collapsed last Thursday.

“Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobiliz, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency,” the release said.

The release said a program that provides assistance to individuals and households “and assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided.”

With search-and-rescue operations are ongoing. The number of people missing in the Florida condominium collapse fell substantially Friday, from 145 to 128, after duplicate names were eliminated and some residents reported missing turned up safe, officials said.

Authorities also announced the recovery of four more bodies, including the 7-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter, raising the confirmed death toll to 22.

Late Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis, after touring the site earlier in the day, declared a state of emergency for Miami-Dade County that included seeking direct federal assistance.

“The TV doesn’t do it justice,” DeSantis told reporters after Thursday’s tour. “I mean, it is really, really traumatic to see the collapse of a massive structure like that. Right now, we have fire-rescue, they are in search-and-rescue mode. They are trying to identify survivors. I know they have made contact with some. And they’re doing everything they can to save lives.”

In the order, DeSantis noted the collapse destroyed a substantial portion of the oceanfront property and left the remainder uninhabitable.

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