MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On day five of the search and rescue operation at the site of the Champlain South Towers collapse, Governor Ron DeSantis said the priority is to rescue people who may be trapped in the rubble and care for the people who have been displaced.
On Monday, DeSantis thanked all of the South Florida first responders taking part in this massive and dangerous undertaking.READ MORE: Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho On Mask Use For Upcoming School Year: 'Decision Cannot Be Rushed'
“I had a chance to meet with the urban search and rescue teams. They’ve been going at it for over 100 hours straight. When there’s danger, they run towards it. They obviously shepherded a lot of people to safety initially and they have been, every minute of every day since the building collapsed, trying to identify survivors. They are putting themselves at risk in order to do that. Not only could you have an additional collapse, but because of the fires they had to fight, it’s been an incredibly hazardous environment and they’ve been on the scene non-stop from the very beginning,” said DeSantis.
He also thanked the search and rescue teams who have come from across the state.
“The search continues and it will not stop until there is a resolution,” said DeSantis.
The governor said a team from Israel is also on site helping and they said what the teams from Miami and Miami-Dade did exactly what they would have done and exactly what should have been done.
DeSantis said they are working with FEMA, local government, and private organizations to bring relief services to the family members.
“That involved relocation assistance, it involves things like mental health counseling, we’ve beefed that up her on the ground, and what we want to do is, working with FEMA, identify all the families, get them registered, which FMA is doing a good job of, and be able to provide these services,” he said.
He said Volunteer Florida is organizing all the charitable donations.READ MORE: Cleveland Clinic Weston Once Again #1 Hospital In Miami-Fort Lauderdale Metro Area
“The charitable donations have been incredible. Millions of dollars and I think there are going to be millions more,” said DeSantis.
For those looking to help, Neighbors 4 Neighbors has established a fund for those in need. To contribute, call Neighbors 4 Neighbors at (305) 597-4404 or go to neighbors4neighbors.org/surfsidefund.
He said the recovery for the families will take a while.
DeSantis said a third priority will be finding out what caused the building to collapse.
“I was able to meet with the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) folks today. They were created after 911. They’ve done a handful of thorough investigations since their creation. They did 911, Joplin, Missouri after the tornadoes, they’re doing Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, they did a Rhode Island nightclub fire that happened almost 20 years ago. They have never done just a straight building collapse, so this is something that’s going to be important, this is something that is going to be very thorough,” he said.
The NIST is conducting a preliminary investigation to forensically inspect the scene, rubble, and structural damage.
The governor said the full investigation will take a long time. He said investigations by Miami-Dade and Surfside may provide information sooner. That will be important, according to DeSantis, because if they want to get things done on a state level they would want to get information as soon as possible.
“I think the people of Florida want to understand how this could happen and what could we do to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.MORE NEWS: Calls Continue For Cuban Embassy In DC To Be Shut Down
President Joe Biden has also called for an investigation into the building collapse and wants the federal government involved in it.