President Joe Biden said Thursday the families who lost their loved ones in the Surfside condo collapse in Miami told him about their concerns about global warming.
“Interesting to me. I didn’t raise it. How many of the survivors — How many of the families talked about the impact of global warming,” Biden told reporters after privately visiting with the family members.
Biden traveled to Miami on Thursday to visit with the families and show support for the rescue operation.
“They didn’t know exactly, but they talked about sea levels rising and about how there were and the combination of that and the concern about incoming tropical storms,” he added.
Biden said it remained unclear why the building collapsed but raised concerns about the sea levels rising and also nearby construction in the area.
“I don’t think there is at this point any definitive judgment as to why it collapsed and what can be done to prevent it from happening,” he said.
Biden said that families were “realistic” about the fate of their loved ones.
“The families are very realistic,” Biden said, noting that “cement upon cement upon cement” collapsed on people living in the condo homes.
The death toll at the condo site is at 18 with 145 people still missing.
“They know that the chances are, as each day goes by, diminished slightly,” Biden added, referring to the families.
The rescue operations were paused early Thursday after the remainder of the building began shifting, threatening to collapse further.
“They’re going through hell. Those who survived the collapse as well as those who are missing loved ones,” Biden said.
He did not say when rescue and recovery teams could return to the site but said operations would continue after it was deemed safe.
Biden directed the National Institute of Standards and Technology to investigate the site, to see when it would be safe to return.
Biden said even though families were realistic, “I don’t think that in any way suggests that it’s too… that we should stop.”
“I think that we should move on, and continue to recover the bodies,” he added.
He said he met extensively with family members who lost loved ones in the tragedy.
“I thought it was important to speak to every single person that wanted to speak to me,” Biden said.
He said that the “last thing they would want” would be to lose additional rescue workers in a further collapse of the building.
Biden added that many of the families were people of faith who were “praying and pleading for a miracle.”
“I walked away impressed by their strength,” he said.