MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A search and rescue crews scour the rubble of the Surfside condo collapse, the former director of Florida’s Department of Emergency Management said he was stunned by what he saw.
“The images harken to, you know, the Oklahoma City bombing. But I’ve never seen anything like this naturally occurring. The images are just unimaginable,” said Jared Moskowitz.
He said the state and local efforts are about to get a much needed boost now that the Biden administration has approved federal emergency assistance.
“There is dramatic coordination between the local, the state, and the federal government, especially now with the president doing the disaster declaration, which is a big deal. You know, obviously, the damage is small in scale, but the amount of missing people is significant in scope. So the president coming in, and quite frankly, waiving some usual norms in how you get a disaster declaration seems warranted because of the amount of people and the amount of lives that are going to be affected by this disaster,” said Moskowitz.
He said the situation is similar to what happened after the attacks of September 11th.
“You know, this is the playbook of 911, the local, the state and the federal government working together in a collapsed structure, obviously, the circumstances are significantly different. But it’s the same sort of effort that’s ongoing. And, you know, time is of the essence to try to find people, you know, that have survived the collapse of that building,” said Moskowitz.
He emphasized that FEMA can really help in disasters like this.
“There are two of the teams nationally that do this that are actually in Dade County; one in Dade County, the other is the City of Miami. So those are federally funded plumes. Usually, you would go to the federal government and request these teams when there are events like this, but these teams were already local. So they were able to jump into action immediately. What FEMA is helping do now is bring additional USAR our teams with this expertise to come down to help rotate folks out, because this is obviously a grueling effort on the use our teams,” said Moskowitz.
He added that the federal emergency declaration also comes with funding.
“This is obviously a very expensive response. The recovery is obviously going to cost money, and then the damage to people’s lives. People are never going back in that tower. They’re never going to obviously recover their contents. So, you know, this has the feeling, even though it is on one piece of property, the damage that has occurred by this disaster is only at the scale where the federal government can come in and help,” said Moskowitz.