Surfside response

At approximately 1:30 a.m. early Thursday morning, the twelve-story, Champlain Towers South collapsed in Surfside, Florida — a town a few miles north of Miami Beach. The definitive reason why the beachfront condominium collapsed is currently uncertain; it may never be certain. As crews continue to carefully mine the rubble, it’s been heartbreaking to watch the details that slowly but meticulously unfold. 55 of the building’s 136 units were destroyed. Approximately 150 people remain missing at the time of this posting. Eleven have been confirmed dead. It’s a gut-wrenching, traumatic scene.

The Intramuralist has tuned into several of the government and rescue team’s press conferences. There is a somberness that makes them hard to watch. But there is one aspect for which I am soberly, deeply grateful. I’ll share from Sunday’s morning presser…

First before the microphones came Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis shared a brief account — first, of course, sharing grief with the affected families, thanking the first responders, then detailing the coordination efforts among multiple levels of government, giving insight into the ongoing approach.

Next came FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, who thanked the Governor, let the public know she was there on behalf of Pres. Biden, and then shared details into how federal emergency efforts are more specifically involved.

Following the two was Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who also thanked both the Governor and FEMA in addition to the rescue teams, and spoke of several more specific developments, such as being able to control the resulting smoke and fire.

The three were joined by Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez and Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie. 

Allow me to expand on the reason for somber gratitude…

The primary presenters hail from varied backgrounds. They represent two different political parties. And in 21st Century America, increasingly more people and party loyalists justify dissimilar party adherence as grounds for uncompromising conflict and disrespect. That uncompromising conflict and disrespect, however, impedes what needs to be done.

In South Florida this week — even with the respective (D) and (R) placed next to the individual names on the bottom of my screen on Sunday — the political party of the public officials was not significant. What was instead significant?

… grieving with the affected families… thanking the first responders… coordinating efforts among multiple levels of government… being there on behalf of the President… controlling the resulting smoke and fire… dealing with the trauma.

It thus makes me grateful to see a diverse group of public officials come together, recognize the effort of one another, thank each other, coordinate, and get the job done. I don’t see any caring of who gets the credit — nor any denigrating of the politically different. The officials are focused on solving the problem — as opposed to seeing the different as the problem.


Epilogue… sort of…

I had originally concluded this piece with an ending acknowledgement that it shouldn’t take trauma to get the job done; it shouldn’t take the gut-wrenching to make us focus on what’s most significant nor to stop always blaming the politically different. As journalist Charles C.W. Cooke opined two days ago:

“Hey, you. Yes, you. The one with his hands arched above the keyboard, debating whether to press ‘Send’ on your Surfside hot take. Don’t. Delete it, step away from the computer, go outside for a while, and reflect upon what you’ve become.

What is happening in Miami-Dade is not Mayor Burkett’s fault. It’s not Mayor Cava’s fault. It’s not Fire Marshal Patronis’s fault. It’s not Governor DeSantis’s fault. It’s not President Biden’s fault, either. Every single one of these people is horrified by the collapse. Every single one is dreading learning the final death toll. Every single one is working as fast and assiduously as they can. This is a tragedy, it’s not an election. For the love of God: stop.

I found myself amen’ing along. Blaming the politically different is putting our focus in the wrong place. We are all horrified. 

Cooke concludes, “Sometimes in this imperfect world of ours, truly horrific things can happen to good people, and there is nothing of use to be gained by trying to weave them neatly into a broader political rationale. Not everything is ideological. Please: Just stop.”

We quietly, soberly amen once more.