President Biden travels to Florida on Thursday as search and rescue efforts at the site of the Champlain Towers South condo building collapse enter their second week, with 18 confirmed dead and 145 still missing.
Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are expected to meet with Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other local officials in Surfside.
They will then meet with first responders and search and rescue teams before visiting the families of those still awaiting information on the status of their loved ones.
LIVE UPDATES: SURFSIDE COLLAPSE DEATH NUMBER REACHES 18
Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said he hopes Biden’s visit will boost morale in the entire community.
“We had several challenges due to the weather, the sorrow, the pain. And I think the president’s coming will bring some unity here for our community, support, like our governor, our mayor, all of us together,” he said. he said, according to The Associated Press.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president and the first lady also wanted to ensure that state and local officials have the resources and support they need under a statement of emergency approved by Biden for Miami-Dade.
She stressed on Wednesday that the White House is making sure to coordinate with officials on the ground to ensure that Biden’s visit does nothing to “stray” from ongoing search and rescue efforts.
State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said he hoped to communicate to Biden the need for mental health resources for rescue workers who may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“These guys are so blindly focused on the mission of saving lives, and sadly they see things they can’t ignore,” Patronis said.
“We want to make sure that when they finally get home, we give them the strength… to be able to return to work without fear of nightmares and challenges,” he added.
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Among the remains found on Wednesday were those of a mother and her two young daughters, a loss Mayor Levine-Cava called “too much to bear”.
Miami-Dade Police have identified the children as Lucia Guara, 10, and Emma Guara, 4, and their mother, Anaely Rodriguez, 42. The remains of their father, Marcus Guara, 52, were removed from the rubble on Saturday and identified on Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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