President Joe Biden met with fire and rescue personnel in Florida Thursday who are engaged in the wrenching and laborious task of contending with the devastating building collapse and its aftermath, telling the responders ‘What you’re doing is incredible.’
Biden scheduled a meeting with dozens of first responders soon after arriving at a hotel blocks from the disaster seen of the Champlain Tower collapse.
‘I just want you to know – I understand,’ he told them. ‘I just want to say: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,’ he told them.’
Biden met the responders, who wore Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue jackets, FEMA patches, and police uniforms, at the St. Regis hotel in Bar Harbour, where he is devoting a day to meeting with families, public officials, and responders.
‘What you’re doing is incredible,’ President Joe Biden told first responders are responding to the tragic building collapse in Surfside, Florida
At one point, he recounted how first responders used ‘jaws of life’ to pry his children out of the vehicle during the 1972 car crash that took his first wife, Neilia, as well as his infant daughter, Naomi.
He urged them to ‘be careful’ in the work, amid concerns that shifting or instability in the rubble could pose a risk. Work was suspended after about 2 am amid the safety concerns.
‘I promise you: I know. What you’re doing here is incredible,’ he told them.
‘What you’re doing now is just hard as hell to deal with, even psychologically, to deal with,’ he said.
The event was a photo ‘spray,’ and reporters weren’t invited to stay for long. Other notables, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio, arrived shortly after it began, with an apology from staff.
His visit came on a day when work was being suspended indefinitely due to safety issues.
The rescue teams continued to work with 145 people still not located
Earlier, Biden told DeSantis ‘we’re here to help’ shortly before he met with rescue crews looking for the 145 people still missing in the rubble of the collapsed Miami condo and spoke to officials leading the recovery.
He spoke to the ‘a lot of pain and anxiety, suffering’ of families awaiting the final word on their relatives as search efforts were halted over fears the rest of the structure could fall on first responders.
‘We’re not going anywhere,’ Biden promised, as he spoke of the federal response, which includes dispatching FEMA and a promise of federal aide. ‘For real,’ he added, for emphasis.
‘Tell me what you need?’ he told officials who gathered in the St. Regis hotel blocks away from the site.
President Biden meets with Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a briefing at the collapse of the Miami condo
Biden was seated next to DeSantis, as well as Daniella Levine Cava, the mayor of Miami-Dade County. He was seated across from two Republican rivals, Sen. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida, Scott sporting the same familiar Navy cap he wore on disaster visits with former President Donald Trump.
‘You know what’s good about this?’ Biden said: ‘It lets the nation know we can cooperate…that’s really important.’
‘We’re here to help,’ Biden told officials. He also told DeSantis, ‘This is your show.’ DeSantis also paid Biden a compliment. ‘We’ve had no bureaucracy,’ DeSantis told him.
‘You recognized the severity of this tragedy from day one, and you’ve been very supportive,’ DeSantis told the president.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden depart from Joint Base Andrews en route to Miami, Florida, to visit the site of the collapsed condo where 18 have died and 145 are still missing. They were joined by Col. William McDonald, 89th Airlift Wing Vice Commander, and his wife Diana
‘It’s been an incredible collaboration from the beginning,’ said Cava as the officials traded compliments while the cameras rolled.
‘There’s an amazing story, and lives have been shattered irrevocably as a result of this,’ DeSantis said at the meeting when it was his turn to speak. ‘We’ve already identified unfortunately fatalities, people who’ve been 92 years old and the matriarch of a wonderful family. We have families with kids missing. And we even have young newlyweds, who hadn’t even been married a year that were in the tower when it collapsed.’
‘The cooperation has been, it’s been great, the local and both the municipal and the county have been fantastic,’ he said. ‘And you guys have not only been supportive at the federal level, but we’ve had no bureaucracy,’ he said. He said FEMA approvals were happening ‘in no time.’