FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell described how the devastation at the Champlain Towers South collapse site is “difficult to put into words,” after visiting Surfside, Florida, over the weekend.
“It’s difficult to put into words the devastation that this community is experiencing. Our hearts go out to all the families and loved ones that have been impacted by this event,” Criswell said at a congressional hearing Tuesday.
Criswell praised local rescue efforts and also noted that “FEMA is on the ground,” where they have a recovery center “that is working directly with families and loved ones impacted by this tragic event to get them the assistance that they need.”
“We will continue to bring resources to support the ongoing response and recovery efforts,” she told lawmakers.
This comes after Criswell visited Surfside at President Joe Biden’s direction on Sunday.
“What I heard from Administrator Criswell was excruciating,” Biden later wrote in a readout of his call with the FEMA official. “She reiterated that words can’t describe the scene on the ground and she gave me an update on meetings she had with state and local officials to ensure they have everything they need.”
During Tuesday’s hearing, Criswell noted that FEMA’s mission of helping people “has never been more critical” in the wake of disasters like the Surfside collapse.
“Our role supporting incidents such as the Champlain Towers collapse, our support of the COVID-19 pandemic response, and numerous other active disasters attests to vital importance and responsibility of this agency to our nation,” she said.