Jul 1, 2021
DeSantis, Florida Officials Brief Joe Biden on Surfside Condo Collapse Transcript
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Surfside officials briefed President Joe Biden on the condo collapse on July 1, 2021. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Joe Biden: (00:00)
The coordination among you all is just admirable. It really is impressive. And so I want so thanks and listen and find out what I can do as President, what I can leave in terms of help for whatever you need. The governor and the mayor have been completely open with me, asked for whatever they’ve asked, and I think we’ve been able to deliver. And I think there is more that we can do including… I think I have the power and will know shortly that, to be able to pick up 100% of the costs for the county and the state over the first 30 days.
Daniella Levine Cava: (00:39)
Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness, Mr. President.
Joe Biden: (00:43)
I think I’m quite sure I can do that. And so we’re going to do that, and there’s going to be a lot… You all know it because a lot of you’ve been through it as well. There’s going to be a lot of pain and anxiety and suffering, and even a need for psychological help in this in the days and the months that follow. And so we’re not going anywhere.
Daniella Levine Cava: (01:09)
Thank you Mr. President
Joe Biden: (01:09)
For real. Again, I just want to start today if I could, as thorough a briefing as you’re able to give me. Tell me what you need and that goes for both the Senators and the Congresswoman and anyone in Florida just to pick up the phone for the Oval office. For real, I’m not joking about. I think the Governor will tell you, anything he asked for he got. We have another group of teams coming from FEMA today. How many people will be?
Deanne Criswell: (01:41)
By the end of the day there should be about 500 on the ground.
Joe Biden: (01:44)
500 on the ground. So again, this is your show. We just want to make sure that whatever you need and you know, including… Well anyway, I won’t… I’m talking too. I want to hear from you guys.
Daniella Levine Cava: (01:59)
All right. Well, Mr. President, we cannot thank you enough for being here with us, for showing your extraordinary support from day one. You called me that morning. We hustled into a little room at the family reunification center so I could take the call and you said whatever we need. And I said, “Bring FEMA,” and here they are on the ground.
Daniella Levine Cava: (02:19)
It’s been an incredible collaboration from the beginning, with the federal, with the state, we had our Florida Emergency Management Director, Kevin Guthrie, here immediately. The governor has been here every single day. The senators, I believe the same. And our state and municipal leaders as well.
Daniella Levine Cava: (02:36)
So the collaboration from the elected leadership to the police departments, all the municipals, of course, under the leadership of our incredible Miami-Dade Police Department and Freddy Ramirez, our director. And without a doubt, the fire department and our fire chief Alan Kaminsky, who has led the effort of these first responders who are in the world’s hands. Everybody is praying and watching these incredible men and women as they proceed day after day and literally have to be pulled off the pile, Mr. President. They are here to save lives, that is what they live for and it is truly humbling.
Daniella Levine Cava: (03:17)
We all know this is an unprecedented devastating disaster unlike anyone has ever seen. It shocked the world, and the fact that we’ve all come together is what gives us hope, is what gives us strength and inspiration. It does for me every single day as we talk to the family members, as you’ll soon be doing as they are waiting and waiting for news of their loved ones, as you said. And also those who’ve been displaced. I mean, it’s just a crisis all around.
Daniella Levine Cava: (03:45)
But we are working together to handle the crisis, to get the answers about what happened here, and we can update you on that. We are going to be examining every inch of this catastrophe with the full might of the federal, state, and local government to do so. So we want to make sure, we all, the world wants to make sure that a tragedy of this nature never ever happens again.
Daniella Levine Cava: (04:13)
So, we have a briefing for you and I want to start with our governor and I want to thank you, Governor DeSantis. Your team has been amazing, but you personally have been amazing. You’ve been a steady, calming, reassuring but forceful voice every step of the way and it’s been a pleasure to partner with you, truly. Thank you. Thank you.
Ron DeSantis: (04:37)
Joe Biden: (04:37)
Let me just one more thing, you know what’s good about this? The way we’re cooperating. We live in a nation that we can cooperate.
Daniella Levine Cava: (04:40)
Yes, sir. That’s right.
Joe Biden: (04:41)
It’s really important. I was talking to Debbie about it on the way down. We’ve come together. This is life and death. I just got back from 12 days in Europe. They wonder whether we can do this, and you’re doing it. I mean, just the simple act of everybody doing whatever needs to be done, it really makes a difference Governor.
Ron DeSantis: (05:11)
Well, thank you Mr. President and you recognized the severity of this tragedy from day one and you’ve been very supportive. We in Florida, you’ll drive up and down that these coastal roads you’ll see these buildings and I’ve driven by that building, probably never thought twice. And then something like this happens and you recognize in each individual unit, there’s an amazing story and lives have been shattered irrevocably as a result of this.
Ron DeSantis: (05:40)
We’ve already identified, unfortunately, fatalities. People who’ve been 92 years old, have been the matriarch of a wonderful family. We have families with kids missing. And we even have young newlyweds who haven’t even been married a year who were in the tower when it collapsed. So the cooperation has been great. The local, both the municipal and the county, have been fantastic.
Ron DeSantis: (06:06)
And you guys have not only been supportive at the federal level, but we’ve had no bureaucracy. When we’re dealing with FEMA we’re literally getting requests routed from local to state to federal in no time and the approval is happening.
Joe Biden: (06:19)
I promise you there will be none.
Ron DeSantis: (06:21)
Yep. And so that really I think is important. This is the first response in Florida’s history outside of a hurricane where all of our urban search and rescue teams were mobilized. So they’ve been going in and out of the rubble searching, trying to find people, trying to rescue people. At a minimum, trying to identify anyone who may be deceased to bring closure to the families, which is very important. But they’re tired and this has taken a toll on them.
Ron DeSantis: (06:50)
So the fact that we now have that search and rescue team from Virginia here, I know we have some more on the way, that’s going to be helpful because this is grueling. And obviously the family’s lives have been shattered. Mental health is going to be important. We’re going to need some mental health support for some of the folks who’ve been in that rubble, because it’s not easy to do.
Ron DeSantis: (07:06)
But we thank you for the support and we do appreciate the collaboration for local, state, and federal. And what we just need now is we need a little bit of luck and need a little bit of prayers and we would like to be able to see some miracles happen. But I can tell you this, we’re not going to stop until we identify everybody and until we do what we need to do. So thank you, Mr. President.
Daniella Levine Cava: (07:34)
Mr. President, I want to acknowledge the leadership of the First Lady, Casey DeSantis, as well. Who is very, very focused on children and mental health issues and is bringing that agenda to our discussions. And of course we’ve been including all of that as you’ll learn from our briefings. But we know how important First Ladies are, so we just want to be sure to give a shout out. So Senator Scott, who of course not only is our Senator but was the former governor-