President Joe Biden is set to visit the site of the Champlain Towers South on Thursday, a week after its deadly partial collapse, as thousands of well-wishers donated more than $1 million to help families of the victims.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday that first lady Jill Biden will also travel with the president to thank first responders and meet victims' families.
”They want to thank the heroic first responders, search and rescue teams, and everyone who’s been working tirelessly around the clock, and meet with the families who have been forced to endure this terrible tragedy, waiting in anguish and heartbreak for word of their loved ones, to offer them comfort as search and rescue efforts continue,” Psaki said.
Half of the 13-story Champlain South Towers building collapsed last Thursday and now more than 150 residents remain unaccounted for, CNN reported. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also revealed Monday that at least 11 people had been confirmed dead as rescue officials indicate chances of finding more survivors are dwindling by the day.
A fundraising campaign on The Chesed Fund, which has a goal of $5 million, had raised more than $1.2 million as of Wednesday morning, and all the money is expected to go toward helping victims' families as the platform is commission free, unlike more popular crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe or YouCaring.
“In response to the terrible tragedy which struck the Miami community, EZS Events has organized this campaign in a combined effort with The Shul of Bal Harbour to create a central fund to be dispersed as needed directly to the victims and families. Please donate generously to this emergency campaign,” the organizers of the campaign said in a statement.
“This tragedy has shaken the Miami community to its core. News over the weekend of a rising death toll and more missing persons has saddened us greatly, and the clock keeps ticking. Our hopes lay in finding those still missing, but the window is becoming slimmer. As the news continues to unfold, it has become apparent that the needs of the community are growing so while search and rescue efforts continue, we must continue our efforts to raise financial support for those affected,” they added.
As the search for answers on why the tragedy happened continueddon, condo documents obtained by CNN and cited in a report Tuesday show that condo owners were hit with a $15 million assessment in April to complete repairs required under the county's 40-year recertification process.
The documents from the Champlain Towers South condo association show that two years earlier, members of the association had received a report informing them of "major structural damage" in the building that needed an estimated $9.1 million to repair. The building's condition, however, continued deteriorating after that, and the bill ballooned.
Condo association President Jean Wodnicki described in an April letter to homeowners that the building needed extensive repairs in parts, noting "the observable damage such as in the garage has gotten significantly worse since the initial inspection." The "concrete deterioration is accelerating. The roof situation got much worse, so extensive roof repairs had to be incorporated," she added, explaining the reason for the recent $15 million assessment.
"Other previously identified projects have been rolled under the main project. New problems have been identified. Also, costs go up every year," she said. "This is how we have gone from the estimated $9,128,433.60 cited in Morabito's 2018 report, to the much larger figure we have today."
More than 300 emergency personnel, including teams from Israel and Mexico, are working around the clock, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been called in to help search for survivors, The New York Times reported.