Governor Ron DeSantis returned to the site of the building collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside on Friday, meeting with those displaced by the tragedy, with the families of missing people and with the media during a press conference update of the state’s response.
As of the latest report, there are four dead and 159 missing following the catastrophic collapse of the high-rise condominium near Miami.
DeSantis stopped at a family assistance center established at the Surfside Community Center a mile from the collapse site and then at a synagogue, The Shul of Bal Harbour.
Following the visits, the governor said, “Many families have been devastated by the building collapse in Surfside. Please pray for these families and their loved ones.”
During a press briefing, DeSantis said the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) continues to work around the clock to ensure all resources are available to aid search and rescue in Surfside and that Director Kevin Guthrie is on-site and coordinating Florida’s response.
Members of the City of Miami Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Force 2 have relieved Miami-Dade US&R Task Force 1 and will continue search and rescue efforts. An additional six statewide US&R teams are on standby and will rotate every 24 hours throughout the operation. In addition to technical expertise and equipment, the US&R teams are also supplying canines to search the scene and save lives.
Beyond the rescue efforts, DeSantis said the state is stepping up to provide assistance to survivors and those displaced by the tragedy.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is working with AirBnB to coordinate housing assistance for displaced individuals.
The American Red Cross is also providing temporary lodging for displaced individuals and has opened a “Safe and Well” event for the collapse. The “Safe and Well” event is available here.
Displaced residents can also utilize the Florida Housing and Finance Corporation rental locator at FloridaHousingSearch.org or call 877-428-8844.
Individuals with information about loved ones who are unaccounted for, or are safe, are encouraged to call the reunification hotline at 305-614-1819.
Impacted individuals are also encouraged to contact the following helpline services for immediate emotional support:
Disaster Distress Helpline – 800-985-5990
Florida 211 Network – 211
Crisis Text Line – Text HELLO to 741741
FDEM Mental Health Coordinator is standing by to deploy as needed and has begun organizing mental health resources across partner agencies. The Division is also coordinating with the Florida Crisis Response Team to provide group crisis intervention to survivors.
DeSantis told Fox News this morning that when he was visiting the site of the collapse, he saw many family photographs and belongings among the debris and was struck by the fact that these residents, even the ones lucky enough to escape without injury, would never return to their homes and have lost everything. He called for donations for two funds set up in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Those sites are supportsurfside.org and theshul.org/8777.
For businesses affected by the tragedy, DEO has activated the Business Damage Assessment Survey to gather information and ensure proper resources are available for response and recovery for the Surfside Community. The survey can be taken at FloridaDisaster.biz/BusinessDamageAssessments by selecting the “Surfside Condo Collapse”. For additional assistance, call 850-815-4925.
The Florida Department of Transportation is coordinating with Miami-Dade County to fulfill resource requests that will assist with scene security and redirection of traffic.