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Biden to Surfside Families: 'The Waiting Is Unbearable'

President visits Florida after condo collapse
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 1, 2021 3:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – President Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited the devastated community of Surfside, Florida, on Thursday. During a private meeting with family members waiting for word on relatives missing after last week's condo collapse, Biden drew on his own experiences with grief to try to comfort them, per the AP. “I just wish there was something I could do to ease the pain,” he said in a video posted on Instagram by Jacqueline Patoka, a woman who was close to a couple and their daughter who are still missing. Biden, who lost his first wife and baby daughter in a car crash and decades later lost an adult son to brain cancer, spoke of wanting to switch places with a lost or missing loved one. “The waiting, the waiting is unbearable,” he said.

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The president spoke hours after authorities halted search-and-rescue operations out of fear that the condo complex's remaining portion would collapse, too. “This is life and death,” Biden said during a briefing. “There’s gonna be a lot of pain and anxiety and suffering and even the need for psychological help in the days and months that follow," he said. "And so, we’re not going anywhere.” Officials will work with structural engineers and other experts to figure out when rescue operations might resume. Critical points around the site have been monitored with sensors since the rescue operation began, said Scott Nacheman, a structures specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He said there were alarming indications of movement Wednesday night at three locations.

(Read more Florida condo collapse stories.)

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