Biden says fed is ready to help following Miami building collapse

President Biden said Thursday that the federal government is ready to step in to assist after a building collapsed in Miami, Fla., and left at least one person dead and 99 unaccounted for. 

Biden said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is assessing the situation on the ground, but  it cannot provide help until Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) declares a state of emergency. 

"They are down inspecting what they think is needed but I'm waiting for the governor to ... declare an emergency," Biden told reporters Thursday afternoon following an announcement on a bipartisan infrastructure deal. "We are on top of it. We are ready to move from the federal resources immediately, immediately, if in fact we are asked for it."

"I say to the people of Florida, whatever help you want that the federal government can provide, we are waiting, just ask us, we'll be there," Biden added. 

Biden said that he spoke with Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava (D) earlier in the day about the situation. Cava, who had also been at the White House for an unrelated event Wednesday, also urged DeSantis to declare a state of emergency. 

"At this moment it is critical that @GovRonDeSantis declare a state of emergency for the building collapse in Surfside so the federal government can allocate resources we desperately need. I have asked the Governor to do this immediately - there is no time to waste," Cava tweeted. 

Biden told reporters that FEMA is assessing whether people in nearby buildings need to be evacuated and whether shelter and food needs to be provided. 

Biden had not yet spoken to DeSantis as of Thursday afternoon, but told reporters during a trip to a vaccination site in North Carolina that his team had been in touch with the governor.

A two-story condo building, Champlain Towers South Condo, partially collapsed early Thursday, leaving a sea of debris for search and rescue teams to sift through to find missing individuals. Officials said 99 people were missing and reported one death, though the total death toll is not known.

Thirty-five people were rescued from the building as of Thursday afternoon. 

"The first responders were able to save a lot of people. They are going to be going through more and, you know, it's a really, really tragic situation so we'll hope for the best in terms of additional recoveries, although we are bracing for some bad news just given the destruction that we're seeing," DeSantis said at a news conference.