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President Biden In Miami: Federal Government To Pay For First 30 Days Of Costs Related To Surfside Search & Rescue

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - President Joe Biden delivered remarks on Thursday afternoon after meeting with families of those affected by the Surfside condo collapse.

He spoke from Bal Harbour where he said, "Hope springs eternal," as he remains optimistic about search and rescue operations.

He added that the families were hopeful, but realistic.

"We have been working in tandem from the moment we got the news of the collapse of the building. And I think my colleagues will tell you, we cut through the bureaucracy," said Biden.

Watch: President Biden Delivers Remarks From Bal Harbour


"The one order I gave the federal folks was 'no bureaucracy,' just cut through it. Get to whatever they need," added the president.

"We decided to cover 100% of the search and rescue costs for the first 30 days, not done often, but necessary here," said Biden.

The president said there were two outstanding concerns:

"First, the remaining buildings may collapse, the remainder of the building may collapse. We need to determine if it's safe for first responders to return to the site to continue their rescue mission."

"I've asked the National Institute of Standards and Technology to investigate to see if it's safe to go back and what caused the building to collapse in the first place."

After meeting with the families, the president said, "Our message today is that we're here for you, as one nation. And that's the message we communicate. We'll be in touch with a lot of these families continuing through this process. But there is much more to be done. We're ready to do it."

After delivering his remarks, the president and the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden made a stop at the 'Wall of Hope' memorial in Surfside, where they left flowers and said a prayer.

Watch: President Biden, First Lady Stop At 'Wall of Hope'


Thursday marked the 8th day since the collapse of the Champlain Towers South.

Earlier in the day, Biden met with Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Governor Ron DeSantis and other officials Thursday morning during his visit to Miami.

The president was briefed on the ongoing search and rescue operations at the site of the Surfside condo collapse.

During the briefing, President Biden offered to pay for 100 percent of the cost.

"I think I have the power to be able to pick up 100% of the costs from the county, the state. I think I'm quite sure I can do that. And, and so we're going to do that," said Biden.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who was sitting to the left of the president, had this to say:

"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 and 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."

"So 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. 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 chief our fire chief Alan Kaminski, who has led the effort of these first responders."

"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."

The mayor said the following about the investigation regarding the collapse of the condo:

"We are going to be examining every inch of this catastrophe with the full might of the federal, state and local government. We want to make sure that a tragedy of this nature never, ever happens again."

Shortly before noon, the president met with first responders to thank them for their efforts.

Watch: President Biden meets with first responders:


During the briefing, Gov. Ron DeSantis said, "We need luck and prayers. We would like to see some miracles."

President Biden and the First Lady held a private meeting with the families impacted by the condo collapse.

Before he arrived, search and rescue work at the site was halted due to concerns about the stability of the building that is still standing.

The President's visit was carefully crafted, so it would not impede the search and rescue operation.

Biden met the families in Bal Harbour. He was scheduled to spend several hours with them before delivering remarks.

The president and his entourage are expected to leave for DC by nightfall.

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