First lady Dr. Jill Biden attends Surfside condo collapse memorial service

Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 10:16 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

To mark one year since the devastating condominium collapse in Surfside, federal and state officials on Friday held a touching tribute to honor the 98 victims of the tragedy.

First lady Dr. Jill Biden delivered remarks a memorial service at the site of the Champlain Towers South condominium building, praising first responders, the South Florida community, and "Americans from across our country who donated and found ways to spread kindness."

“We stand with you today and always. And as we gather, we express gratitude for this community,” Biden said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state Legislature has approved $1 million for a public memorial to be built at the collapse site, and the portion of Collins Avenue where the tower stood is being renamed 98 Points Of Light Road.

"So every time people drive by, they're gonna be reminded that there were great people that lived in that tower," DeSantis said. "We are not gonna forget what they meant to this community and our state."

It was just after 1 a.m. on June 24, 2021 when Champlain Towers South failed and crashed down.

Search and rescue teams from as far away as Mexico and Israel flew in to help. Crews worked 12-hour shifts, sifting through the rubble and battling fires and severe weather.

More than a month after the collapse, the 98th and final victim was identified. It was around the same time that crews cleared the final rubble from the site.

"If there is something strong enough to help us carry the burden of grief forward, something able to break its gravitational pull, it’s love," Biden said Friday. "The love of a community that lifts us when we’re weak, that carries us."

In all, 22 million pounds of debris were moved to an undisclosed facility so investigators could use it to try and determine a cause of the collapse, but none has been found so far.

In May, survivors and families of the victims reached a tentative settlement over the collapse. A judge gave final approval Thursday, meaning the plaintiffs will split more than $1 billion.

On May 24, the site was auctioned for $120 million to a developer from Dubai. The plans for the site include luxury condominiums.

Scripps Only Content 2022