Before signing a bill designating a national memorial at the site of the deadly Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando at the White House on Friday, President Biden drew a parallel between the families of the victims in the 2016 massacre and those currently waiting for news about loved ones missing in the Surfside condominium collapse.
“They understand what it’s like to have to wait and wonder what happened,” Biden said, surrounded by family members of Pulse victims. "There’s nothing worse than having to wait and wonder."
At least four people are dead and 159 others remain unaccounted for as search and rescue efforts continue in the collapse of the 12-story beachfront condo in Surfside, a tight-knit community just north of Miami Beach. Officials there say the search efforts could take up to a week or more.
“It’s a tough, tough time,” Biden said. “There’s so many people waiting. Are they alive? So our hearts go out to them, the people of Florida.”
On Thursday, Biden authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to aid in the rescue and recovery efforts, as well as to provide help for displaced families.
Biden said he had spoken with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to promise his administration’s full support.
Speaking to reporters at the site of the collapse, DeSantis thanked Biden for his quick response to the tragedy.
“We really appreciate having the support of the president,” DeSantis said. “And the people of Florida really appreciate the president and his administration stepping up to help people in need.”
DeSantis also spoke of the excruciating pain that Surfside families are going through.
“When tragedy strikes, it’s a very difficult thing in any circumstances,” the governor said. “But speaking with a lot of these family members, when they’re unaccounted for, it’s a really, really difficult thing. Because they just don’t know.”
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