President Biden is traveling to Florida on Thursday to visit the site of the seaside condominium that collapsed a week ago in Surfside, Fla., and to spend several hours consoling the loved ones of those killed or still missing.
Biden, whose capacity for empathy, born of his own experience with tragedies, has been a defining trait, is also planning to deliver public remarks in Miami on Thursday afternoon, after the private visit with families in a Miami hotel. On arriving in Florida, he will first get a briefing from local officials and then meet with members of the search and rescue teams who’ve been picking through the rubble around the clock.
The shocking structural failure of the condominium is still being investigated, and the official death toll, which now stands at 18, is certain to rise with 145 people still unaccounted for.
Beyond the immediate grief and interminable waiting is the longer term question about the safety of the other high-rises that dot the Florida coast, a geographic area that is among the nation’s most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including severe storms and rising sea levels.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who is considered among his party’s potential aspirants for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination, is among the officials with whom Biden is to meet. But amid the tragedy, politics aren’t likely to factor in to the visit.
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