SURFSIDE, Fla. (WMBB) — The death toll for the condo collapse in South Florida has climbed to 18 — two of the victims being children ages 4 and 10.
State Fire Marshal, Jimmy Patronis, said the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside is the third largest collapse in United States history.
“To put it into perspective for our hometown folks, there’s as many people working on a one acre site here as there was with all 12 counties of Hurricane Michael,” Patronis said.
Despite the death toll climbing to 18, Patronis said there’s still hope they will rescue more people from the rubble.
“We would not continue to pursue as aggressive of a pace working 24 hours a day at breakneck speeds with that type of expertise embedded if we didn’t feel like there was an opportunity to save a life,” Patronis said.
But, Patronis is concerned about the mental health of those first responders and teams working non-stop. On Thursday, he expressed those concerned to President Biden — who was at the site to see the devastation and rescue efforts first hand.
“We have an environment that is unlike anything they’ve ever been subjected to since they’ve signed up for the job and to work at breakneck speed with potentially 150 lives in limbo it will take not only a physical toll but a mental toll on them,” Patronis said.
He said the President gave him his commitment to provide mental health support for the men and women who may suffer from PTSD following this tragedy.
Moving forward, Patronis said to expect new legislation regarding building inspections at the state and federal level.
“But you will see actions from the state,” Patronis said. “I would be shocked if we didn’t see something from the federal nature of some sort to ensure that building inspections are being handled in a way that are taken seriously and whatever needs to be spent to do it will have to be appropriately spent in order to ensure that the condo is safe to live in.”
Patronis said President Biden and Governor Ron DeSantis have been steadfast in providing whatever resources they need to continue the search.