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The truth should be enough.
Nine people are confirmed dead following the partial collapse of a condominium building last week in Surfside, Florida. Another 154 people are missing.
Search and rescue efforts are still underway, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Sunday, four days after “55 units within Champlain Towers South, a 12-story structure that contained 136 apartments, were reduced to a 30-foot-high pile of rubble.”
Remarkably, some in the press have seized on the June 24 catastrophe as an opportunity to attack the state’s Republican governor.
“There's a saying in emergency management,” Washington Post national reporter Hannah Dreier said this weekend. “The first 24 hours are the only 24 hours. FEMA was ready to deploy to the condo collapse almost immediately, and included the crisis in its daily briefing, but didn't get permission from Gov. DeSantis to get on the ground for a full day.”
It’s not even a little bit true that relief efforts in Florida have been disjointed, sluggish, and/or insufficient because DeSantis supposedly hesitated to call on FEMA.
For starters, the Florida Division of Emergency Management was activated minutes after the collapse. First responder groups, including the famed Miami-Dade Urban Search and Rescue team, were on-site immediately.
Second, FEMA doesn’t do search and rescue. It does logistics and support. It relies on disaster specialty groups, including the Miami-Dade USAR team, to do the actual work of combing through rubble. As mentioned, the Miami-Dade USAR team was deployed moments after the implosion.
Third, Miami-Dade County and Surfside authorities say they’re more than satisfied with the aid and support they’ve received from state agencies.
Lastly, DeSantis signed an emergency order on the day of the incident.
It’s anyone’s guess how Dreier got it into her head the disaster response has been anything but efficient and commendable. It’s almost as if she’s making it up!
“Miami Dade County led the response and first responders were there in minutes. FEMA aren’t first responders,” DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw told me this weekend. “FEMA would have deployed literally the same Miami [Urban Search And Rescue] units that were already immediately on-scene. They don’t need permission from the [governor].”
Pushaw also says Drier never contacted the governor’s office for comment. For what it's worth, Drier has not responded to my request for comment.
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