Thursday, June 24, a 12-story residential building in Surfside, FL, partially collapsed. A week later, the Bidens arrived on site, and though 145 people are still missing, rescue efforts had to be paused due to safety concerns. At about 1:30 a.m., the south section of the Champlain Towns crumbled. Sadly, 18 people have now been confirmed dead, and as each day passes, hopes of finding survivors dwindle.
Pause on Rescue Efforts
Due to concerns regarding the stability of the remainder of the building, search and rescue crews have had to stop working. In the early hours of July 1, the fire chief announced the hold due to debris hanging in the garage and concrete movement in the remainder of the building, which could potentially foreshadow new failures. Monitors placed throughout the building detected expansions in the concrete ranging from six to 12 inches.
Every minute and hour that goes by decreased the likelihood and diminished the hopes of finding victims alive. Officials reiterated their focus and awareness of the importance of resuming rescue operations. They are working with structural engineers to determine when the teams can get back to the site.
Thursday morning, July 1, President and First Lady Joe and Jill Biden arrived at Surfside to meet with first responders and comfort affected families. Mr. Biden was also briefed by Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Cava and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. They discussed what the president himself and the federal government can do to help the county, the city of Surfside, and the state of Florida during this tragic time. President Biden also mentioned “picking up 100% of the cost for the county and the state.” He is waiting for approval, but he said he is “quite sure I can do that.”
What We Know
According to Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett, more than 100 units in the building were involved in the collapse. There were 37 individuals pulled from the structure and rubble the first day, but no other survivors since then have been found. The remains of two children, ages 4 and 10, were recovered June 30, increasing the death toll to 18.
The Red Cross, FEMA, Florida’s Task Force-1, Israel Defense Forces, and Mexico’s Topos Azteca rescue team have joined local first responders over the last eight days. They have been removed from the site due to the structures’ potential failures, though additional personnel from FEMA have been deployed to Surfside and will assist as soon as experts determine it is safe to return and comb through the rubble.
To complicate the situation further, a tropical storm may be heading towards Florida’s coast. County Mayor Cava said additional resources have been sent to the site in preparation for the storm.
What We Do Not Know
The cause of the collapse is unknown, though a recently released video shows water and debris pouring from the ceiling of the parking garage shortly before the structure fell. Miami-Dade County has launched an investigation and has ruled nothing out yet.
#Surfside Adriana Sarmiento was swimming in the pool at Bluegreen Vacations Solara Surfside Resort when she heard a loud noise. She went out into the street to investigate & recorded water flowing from the parking garage & rubble on the ground.
Video was recorded @ 1:18 a.m. 👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/HVBgF2xeRd
— Aroma (@Hell_Era_2021) June 30, 2021
A representative from the National Institute of Standards and Technology said a team has been created to investigate the collapse independently and determine the “how and why.” He made sure to reiterate that it will be a fact-finding mission, not a fault-finding one, but warned it may be years until the public gets answers.
Rescuers and first responders are still hopeful, as they were discovering new tunnels and air pockets almost every day. However, this pause is most certainly a setback and discouraging. Surfside Mayor Burkett said, “this is going to go on until we get everybody out of there.”
Read more from Keelin Ferris.