Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency in Miami-Dade County after a condo collapsed in Surfside.
The order, timestamped at 5:32 p.m. comes about 16 hours after a wing of the 12-story building in the community of Surfside came down with a roar around 1:30 a.m. By late afternoon, nearly 100 people were still unaccounted for, authorities said, raising fears that the death toll could climb sharply. Officials did not know how many were in the tower when it fell.
First responders were on the scene within minutes.
“The TV doesn’t do it justice,” DeSantis said after touring the site. “It is really, really traumatic to see the collapse of a massive structure like that.”
DeSantis has deployed multiple state agencies, including the Division of Emergency Management, to respond to the incident in coordination with local officials. The order also opens the door for federal assistance, including from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
At the White House, President Joe Biden addressed the condo collapse, saying that his administration is “ready to move with federal resources immediately” once DeSantis makes the official ask.
Biden said he had a “long discussion” with Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and had “been in contact” with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but a conversation with DeSantis apparently had not happened. The Mayor urged DeSantis to declare a state of emergency, but the Governor instead did a pre-taped interview with the Mark Levin Show at 4 p.m.
A DeSantis spokesperson told Scripps’ Forrest Saunders that “every need had been met,” meanwhile. DeSantis’ communications director Taryn Fenske did not immediately respond to Florida Politics’ questions about plans to coordinate with Washington.
National media questions likewise didn’t get any solid answers. Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez told Jake Tapper on CNN that she didn’t believe the Governor had spoken with Biden.