Biden bringing message of comfort, unity to Surfside


SURFSIDE, Fla. — President Joe Biden is set to offer comfort and support Thursday to the families of the dead and missing after last week’s collapse of a high-rise condo building along the Florida coastline. He is to survey the devastation and meet with first responders hunting for survivors.

Before he arrived at the site, work was halted due to concerns about the stability of the section still standing.

Biden and his wife Jill arrived in Florida a week after the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South beachfront condominium killed at least 18 people and left 145 missing. Hundreds of first responders and search-and-rescue personnel have been painstakingly searching the pancaked rubble for potential signs of life. No one has been rescued since the first hours after the collapse.

While in Surfside, Biden will receive a briefing on the situation with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and meet with first responders. He was expected to meet for several hours with family members of those affected by the collapse before delivering remarks Thursday afternoon ahead of his return to Washington.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden aimed to “offer up comfort and show unity” with his visit to the site.

Biden has received regular updates on the building collapse, and spoke with DeSantis over the phone to offer any necessary federal assistance for the search and rescue mission. He also sent FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell to the area for a tour of the site earlier this week with DeSantis.

The White House emphasized that it was being careful to coordinate with officials on the ground to ensure that Biden’s visit didn’t do anything to distract from the search and rescue effort. “They wanted us to come today,” Jean-Pierre said.

Biden has supported an investigation into the cause of the collapse, and on Wednesday the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which sent a team of scientists and engineers to the site, launched an investigation.

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