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ICYMI: Rubio Joins CBS Face the Nation
Miami, FL — U.S Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined CBS’s Face the Nation to discuss the tragic partial collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida. See below for a lightly edited transcript and watch the video here.
On the response on the ground at Surfside:
“Well, I was there on Thursday night, and I can tell you from Thursday night, yesterday afternoon, the entire scene has changed. There’s a tremendous response. Here in Florida, we’re very blessed to have some of the best search and rescue teams and task force in the country. So that’s changed, it’s just a huge, big set up, almost a tent city there.
“I think what we’ve learned is what’s been announced publicly. I think the officials have been very good in South Florida about sharing with people what they know. They obviously shared that they had found or identified now five people have perished. They didn’t announce the names at the time because some of these family members haven’t even fully been able to notify all of their family members. One of the unique things about this building is it had a substantial number of people that were foreign nationals who were owners or renters there and that were in the rubble.
“Obviously, the searchers are desperately working, it’s very complex. It’s 12 stories. If you look at it from the north side of it, you can see, you can literally see the layers. And then inside of there, there’s everything from toxic chemicals, fire, smoke, all kinds of other hazards, and they have to be very careful. If they move one piece of rebar here, the rest of the pile could collapse somewhere else and either hurt the responders or hurt any survivors that might still be down there.
On the role of the federal government in responding to the situation:
“Well, I wanted to make sure that they had all the resources they needed available to them across government, and obviously there are things the federal government has that it might be able to provide. I know the Army Corps of Engineers has already sent a couple of engineers just to do some preliminary assessment of the building that’s still standing and those immediately alongside that complex just to make sure that in the search process, you’re not going to suffer some additional collapses or damage.
“And the other is that they’re still very much in rescue mode. Some of these people working on this were in Haiti, for example, after that earthquake when they pulled people out of the rubble 10 days after. So I remember the case of, I believe, a 70-year-old woman that was pulled out of the rubble almost a week and a half after the earthquake. So they are very much intent on saving lives still. And they obviously understand every day gets more difficult. And that to me was very important and that came across clearly.”
On residents with relatives overseas:
“Well the first thing that happens is that if they’re overseas they have to get an emergency visa and if they don’t have one or they come from a country that requires a visa to enter into the US. And so we were able to get them those visas or process them through the State Department. The State Department was excellent in all of these different places.
“And on top of that…the State Department is on site. It’s going to help expedite the visa process as some arrangements have to be made for relatives to come. But sadly, we know that there may have to be arrangements made where the bodies, the remains [will have] to be sent overseas, if they’re going to be buried there or cremated there or their family’s going to do services there. So there’s a lot of work to do there. We’re grateful the State Department’s on site now to help with that.”
On the cause of the collapse:
“I can’t say it’s been taken care of, because that’s a very complicated question. This is unusual, right? This has never happened before. We hope it never happens again. It shouldn’t happen again. It shouldn’t happen anywhere. So obviously something very unusual happened here.
“I do know and I understand why people living in the area, particularly a building just north of it, that’s basically a twin, I mean, it’s the same architectural design company that built it, would be concerned about it. And I know that they have now been made FEMA eligible, meaning that if they would like to relocate FEMA will help them with those arrangements.
“I know the county is taking this very seriously. I know that a team is now in from Washington, from an agency that most people have never heard of. It’s under the Department of Commerce that specializes in massive, catastrophic structural failures. And they’re going to come and help local authorities identify what kinds of things need to be preserved for a full-scale investigation. I have little doubt that we will know why this happened and be able to make changes to building codes, if necessary, to prevent it from happening again.
“But right now, 99% of the focus is on trying to find any survivors and give these families closure on this terrible tragedy, even as already thoughts are coming into place of why this happened and so that it never happens again.”