In Florida, President Biden Will Visit Families of Victims and Missing

President Biden pledged ongoing help from the federal government as he arrived in Florida Thursday to resume his role as consoler in c...

President Biden pledged ongoing help from the federal government as he arrived in Florida Thursday to resume his role as consoler in chief following the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo building which has left at least 18 people dead and as many as 145 unaccounted for.

At a briefing where he sat next to Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican and frequent critic of the president, Mr. Biden hailed the cooperation between state, local and federal agencies in the wake of the tragedy.

“I mean just the simple act of everybody doing whatever needs to be done really makes a difference,” he said.

Mr. DeSantis returned the compliment, saying that Mr. Biden’s administration had been quick to recognize the severity of the incident.

“You guys have not only been supportive at the federal level but we’ve had no bureaucracy,” Mr. DeSantis told the president.

“I promise there will be none,” Mr. Biden responded.

Following the briefing in Surfside, Fla., the president is scheduled to meet directly with family members of those killed or missing in the still unexplained destruction of the residential structure.

For Mr. Biden, who has faced his own personal tragedy — including the deaths of his wife and daughter, and later his grown son — it is a role that is all too familiar. His successful campaign for the presidency was built in part on his ability to display an empathy for those suffering that often eluded former President Donald J. Trump, especially in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed 600,000 American lives.

When space shuttles explode or mines collapse, presidents have often expressed grief, horror and sadness with the cameras running, hoping to help the public grapple with the difficult emotions that flow from tragedy. But Mr. Biden’s task on Thursday may be among the trickier ones in recent memory.

Because rescuers have not publicly given up the possibility that survivors may be found under the rubble, the president cannot simply eulogize the dead. Families are clinging to hope, no matter how slim. And yet, Mr. Biden’s visit is an indication that the efforts at the collapse site are moving to a new, less hopeful phase.

No survivors have been found since shortly after the collapse, and on Thursday rescue work was paused while engineers evaluated concerns that the rest of the tower could also fall.

The visit comes just three months after the president traveled to Georgia to express grief for the victims of a mass shooting that left eight people dead, six of them women of Asian descent, amid a spasm of racial violence across the country.

“I know they feel like there’s a black hole in their chest they’re being sucked into, and things will never get better,” Mr. Biden said after a meeting with leaders of Atlanta’s Asian American community. “But our prayers are with you. And I assure you, the one you lost will always be with you, always be with you.”

White House officials declined to say much on Wednesday night about what the president will say in Florida.

Mr. Biden is scheduled thank emergency workers after the briefing, and then will meet privately with family members for several hours at the St. Regis hotel in Miami Beach. After those closed-door sessions, the president is scheduled to deliver remarks to the nation from the hotel before leaving to return to Washington.

The White House did not say whether Mr. Biden would visit the actual site of the building’s collapse. Earlier in the week, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the president was determined not to let his presence get in the way of the search-and-rescue teams.

For most of the families, the visit will be a high-profile interruption of their desperate vigil as they wait for word from the pile of crushed concrete and bent steel that used to be the homes of their loved ones. For a handful of them, Mr. Biden’s appearance will serve as a kind of grim exclamation point.

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Newsrust - US Top News: In Florida, President Biden Will Visit Families of Victims and Missing
In Florida, President Biden Will Visit Families of Victims and Missing
Newsrust - US Top News
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