President Joe Biden announced earlier this week that he would be visiting the site where a condominium collapsed in Surfside, Florida, killing at least 22 as of Friday and leaving more than 100 others missing. But according to a new report from the Washington Examiner, some of the families of the victims would have preferred the president keep his distance.
Notably, the president’s appearance took place during a break in the search amid concerns that the wreckage had become unstable. Still, the Examiner‘s Naomi Lim reported Thursday that some victims’ families had expressed concern that Biden’s visit to the site “drew resources away from the recovery operation.”
“Sea levels rising”
Speaking at the site of the collapse, Biden said he spoke with others in the crowd who raised the possibility that climate change could have played a role in the disaster.
“I didn’t raise it,” Biden was quoted by Lim as telling reporters at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, which is located near the now-partially destroyed Champlain Towers.
“They talked about sea levels rising and about how, the combination of that and a concern about incoming storms, incoming tropical storms,” he insisted, as the Examiner reported.
According to the Examiner, a 2018 inspection of the 40-year-old building concluded that a slab of concrete below the pool deck had sustained “major structural damage.”
What’s more, a pool contractor has supplied photos to the Miami Herald that he says he took 36 hours prior to the collapse depicting cracked concrete as well as exposed and corroded rebar.
“There was standing water all over the parking garage,” the contractor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Herald. He added that he was struck by the apparent lack of maintenance work.
The contractor claims to have spoken with a staff member about what he saw, who attributed the presence of water to “waterproofing issues.”
Engineer and concrete restoration expert Mohammad Ehsani told the paper that the photographs should have been cause for alarm. “You can see extensive corrosion of the rebars at the bottom of the beam. That is very serious,” he said.
“If the condition of the beam in the pool guy’s photo is something that was also happening under the building, that is a really major concern,” Ehsani concluded.
It remains to be seen, however, whether anyone will face criminal charges in the matter.