An aerial view of the site during a rescue operation of the Champlain Tower, which partially collapsed on July 1, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.
Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a news conference Friday night that she had signed an emergency ordinance authorizing the demolition of a 12-story condominium building that partially collapsed more than a week ago.
Engineers will evaluate all possible impacts of the demolition before setting a specific start date, said Levine Cava, which will likely take a few weeks.
“The building poses a threat to public health and safety and it is important to demolish it as soon as possible to protect our community,” said Levine Cava, adding that search and rescue is a top priority the authorities remain.
Levine Cava also announced that two more bodies were found, bringing the death toll to at least 22 confirmed deaths and 126 unexplained deaths.
Levine Cava and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez discovered Friday that one of the newly found bodies was from a seven-year-old child whose father works for the Miami Fire Department.
“It was really different and more difficult for our first responders,” Levine Cava told reporters.
“These men and women pay an enormous human toll every day, and I ask all of you to keep them all in your thoughts and prayers. They truly represent the very best in all of us, and we have to be.” there for you as you are there for us. “
Florida Division of Emergency Management director Kevin Guthrie thanked the federal government for their assistance. He noted that following his visit to Surfside yesterday, President Joe Biden officially authorized the federal government on Friday to cover 100% of the cost of debris removal and emergency response at the collapse site under the Public Assistance program for an uninterrupted period of 30 days from June 24th.
Guthrie also thanked the Royal Caribbean Group for coordinating with the department to provide free accommodation and resources to search and rescue teams on one of their ships docked in PortMiami.
Amazon, Guthrie added, has also supported search and rescue teams by donating 500 laundry bags, 2,000 laundry capsules, and 2,000 dryer sheets.
Governor Ron DeSantis also gave additional updates on Hurricane Elsa, noting that South Florida could see tropical storm winds as early as Sunday night. Authorities are currently watching for the potential impact on Miami-Dade County.
Charles Cyrille, director of the Department of Emergency Management, urged citizens to begin preparing evacuation plans, which include three to seven days of supplies for each member of a household. Cyrille added that homes should also be prepared for impact by securing items like trash cans and patio furniture that can easily be blown away by a hurricane.
“It is critical that these preparatory activities begin today,” said Cyrille.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett also briefed on Champlain Towers North, the sister property of the collapsed condominium building. Burkett said arrangements have been made to relocate residents while experts prepare to conduct a forensic study on the structure to assess their safety.
Search and rescue operations were resumed on Thursday evening after a day-long standstill, with authorities hoping to safely expand the search area.
DeSantis added that search and rescue teams for Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey will assist the state emergency response teams and prepare for Hurricane Elsa.
The suspension of search and rescue operations Thursday morning was due to structural concerns identified by subject matter experts, according to Alan Cominsky, chief of fire in Miami-Dade.
The investigation into the cause of the collapse is still ongoing.
Recent evidence suggests the 40-year-old condominium building showed signs of major structural damage as early as 2018, with one report citing problems with waterproofing under the pool and cracks in the underground parking garage.
A video that was recorded the night of the collapse has also come to light showing water flowing into the building’s parking garage.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST, announced Wednesday evening that it had set up a federal investigation team to investigate the cause of the collapse and develop improved building codes.
Former NIST director Dr. Walter Copan, who ran the agency under then-President Donald Trump until January 2021, told the Miami Herald that it could only be a few months for NIST to provide new facts from the investigation.
“Typically there will be an initial summary within three to six months to provide the public with a status update,” said Copan, according to the Herald.
“NIST’s primary role is to provide the public with regular updates on NIST’s technical analysis and the cause of the failure.”