Charles Burkett, the mayor of Surfside, Florida, told Newsmax Monday that searchers and the city have "all the resources we need" in the wake of last week's collapse of the oceanfront Champlain Towers South.
What they don't have is luck.
"We just don't have the luck so far that we really need," Burkett told Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "We're resource-rich, but we just need to start pulling some folks out of that rubble pile and getting them back with their families."
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Sunday that the death toll from last Thursday's building collapse has risen to nine as search and rescue efforts continue, but more than 150 people remain unaccounted for and authorities and the residents' loved ones are fearing the worst.
Burkett also told Newsmax that the search was delayed early today after a line of thunderstorms rolled through the town.
"Lightning is the only thing that stops the waves of rescuers who are poring over that debris pile," Burkett said. "I just was not happy to see that lightning this morning but it's passed now and it looks like the sun is coming out, so I'm sure they'll be right back up there doing their job." More than 240 highly trained search and rescue personnel, including international teams from Mexico and Israel, are searching for missing residents, he added.
"We have waves of backup ready to step in when those guys get tired," said Burkett, adding that the teams from Mexico and Israel have "great expertise in building collapses. They've been integrated into the team."
At the same time, "we're all just praying that we're going to get our first miracle today," Burkett said.
As of Sunday, rescuers were still hearing noises and voices beneath the rubble of the 12-story building, he said.
Meanwhile, support has been coming for help with the disaster from all levels of the government including President Joe Biden, who has called said Burkett.
"We've got Gov. (Ron) DeSantis, our two U.S. Sens. (Marco) Rubio and (Rick) Scott," said Burkett, adding that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called him personally and said that "we are going to move Heaven and Earth to make sure you have the resources you need."
Cava is also doing a "spectacular job" coordinating the efforts, he stressed.
"Sen. Scott calls me almost every day to just leave a message, and he says, listen, if there's anything you need, let me know and there's no need to call me back if you don't need anything," said Burkett. "It's just amazing, the level of support, the level of teamwork. This is like a military operation down here."
There have been reports that an engineering team had been warning about structural problems with the building. Burkett said the investigation is not the main focus while the rescue efforts continue. He has, however, directed his administration to pull out "ever scrap of correspondence" related to the building and that will be released on the city's website.
He noted that the report on the building was made in emails in 2018, during a period of time between his two administrations, but "that doesn't matter."
"That report sort of outlined issues that were sort of present at that time," said Burkett. "I think what we're going to find is, you know buildings in America just don't fall down. That's a third-world phenomenon, not a first-world phenomenon. Nothing hit this building, not evidently hit this building. There was no earthquake. This is absolutely unacceptable. What happened here? So there's something deeply, deeply wrong. At this property and we're going to find out what the answer is."
He also said that there are no immediate concerns for buildings directly adjacent to the collapsed tower, but there is an immediate concern for a building about three structures away, which is the sister building to Champlain Towers South.
"It apparently was built at the same time by the same developer, presumably with the same plans and presumably with the same materials," said Burkett, adding that he does not blame people from that building who have been calling him to have fears.
"I reached out to Sen. Scott and county Mayor Cava and let them know that I was very concerned about the safety of those people and that I'd like to be able to relocate the people out of that building pending a deep dive into the structural components," he said.
Note: See Newsmax TV now carried in more than 100 million U.S. homes, on DirecTV Ch. 349, Dish Network Ch. 216, Xfinity Ch. 1115, Spectrum, U-verse Ch. 1220, FiOS Ch. 615, Frontier Ch. 115, Optimum Ch. 102, Cox cable, Suddenlink Ch. 102, Mediacom Ch. 277, AT&T TV Ch 349, FUBO and major OTT platforms like Roku, YouTube, Xumo, Pluto and most smart TV’s including Samsung+, Sony, LG, Vizio and more – Find All Systems that Carry Newsmax – Click Here
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.