Ron DeSantis will skip Trump’s July 4 weekend rally in Florida to focus on Surfside recovery efforts

DeSantis Biden
President Joe Biden, right, speaks as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, listens during a briefing with first responders and local officials in Miami Beach, Fla., on July 1, 2021.

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis will not attend former President Trump’s rally in Sarasota on Saturday.
  • DeSantis’ office said he continues to monitor the aftermath of the deadly condo collapse in Surfside.
  • A Trump spokesperson said the rally’s location “will not impact any of the recovery efforts.”
  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida will not attend former President Donald Trump’s rally in Sarasota on Saturday, as he monitors the aftermath of the deadly condo collapse in Surfside, a town in Miami-Dade County.

DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw told The Hill that the governor would continue to tend to the needs of the affected South Florida community in the wake of the harrowing event.

“We can confirm that the Governor will not attend the rally in Sarasota,” she said in a statement. “He spoke with President Trump, who agreed that this was the right decision, as the Governor’s duty is to be in Surfside making sure the families and community have what they need in the aftermath of the tragic building collapse.”

She added: “Governor DeSantis would have gone to this event in normal circumstances. He is sure the rally will draw a big crowd on this holiday weekend, as many Floridians are excited to attend.”

The development that DeSantis would forgo the event was first reported by The New York Times.

Earlier this week, DeSantis’ office refuted a report that it asked Trump to postpone the event in light of the tragedy in Surfside.

Read more: Meet 7 BidenWorld longtime consiglieres and a couple relative newcomers who have access to exclusive White House meetings

DeSantis “is focusing on his duties as Governor and the tragedy in Surfside, and has never suggested or requested that events planned in different parts of Florida – from the Stanley Cup finals to President Trump’s rally – should be canceled,” the governor’s office said in a statement earlier this week, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The Herald-Tribune reported that Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington said the distance between Surfside and Sarasota precludes any disruption in the rescue efforts.

“Like all Americans, President Trump sends his deepest condolences to those who’ve lost loved ones or been displaced by the terrible tragedy in Surfside,” she said. “The event in Sarasota, however, is on the other side of the state, 3.5 hours away, approximately the same distance from Boston to New York, and will not impact any of the recovery efforts.”

She added: “In fact, President Trump has instructed his team to collect relief aid for Surfside families both online and on-site at the Sarasota rally.”

More than a week after the collapse of the Surfside condo building, there have been 24 confirmed deaths as of Saturday, with 124 people still missing.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited the area to mourn with survivors and family members of individuals impacted by the tragedy.

“They’re going through hell,” Biden said of the families during his visit. “Jill and I want them to know that we’re with them and the country’s with them.”

DeSantis, who is seen as a top 2024 GOP presidential prospect in the event that Trump declines to run for office again, praised Biden for his response to the event in a moment of public comity.

“You guys have not only been supportive at the federal level, but we’ve had no bureaucracy,” he said.

Biden responded: “I promise you, there will be none.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The hardest question about the Florida condo collapse: Is it worth rebuilding in a city that could be underwater in 30 years?

Two luxury condominium buildings under construction on Fisher Island in Miami, Florida.
Developers continue to build in places like Fisher Island, located south of Surfside and Miami Beach, despite the growing risks posed by climate change.

  • The cause of the Florida condo collapse is still unknown, but climate change is among early theories.
  • Experts say rising sea levels will pose major risks for other coastal residents in the near future.
  • Yet Miami real estate prices are soaring, even as some experts warn against new development.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A week after the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, near Miami, Florida, collapsed, 22 are dead and more than 100 are still missing.

While speculation is already swirling about what caused the collapse, with observers blaming everything from inaction by the condo board to lax building regulations to rising sea levels, investigators are likely still months from a definitive answer.

One thing is certain, however: Climate change is already threatening to leave substantial parts of coastal areas like Miami underwater in the coming decades, meaning more buildings and infrastructure could be wiped out.

Despite the ominous signs, Miami real estate prices continue to soar and new development projects move forward, in what some experts say is a detachment from the environmental – and economic – reality.

In Florida alone, $26.3 billion worth of coastal property, housing more than 90,000 people, is at risk of becoming “chronically inundated” – that is, flooding at least 26 times per year – by 2045, according to Insider’s analysis of a 2018 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

By those estimates, homebuyers taking out a 30-year mortgage today would likely see their homes flooding every two weeks by the time their loan term expires.

“Florida is ground zero for sea level rise in the United States,” Kristy Dahl, a senior climate scientist at UCS, told Insider.

That rise is causing more of the state to experience flooding, not just during so-called “king tides,” but also during normal high tides, Dahl said, adding that “seawater that’s flooding communities is incredibly corrosive.”

“Regular high-tide flooding will affect all kinds of infrastructure in the coming decades,” she said, pointing out a UCS study that showed how flooding could derail Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor route by 2050.

“A way to drive our economy”

After Hurricane Andrew devastated the state in 1992, Florida passed a wave of new building codes to mitigate future storm damage. The Palm Beach Post reported Friday that the collapse in Surfside could similarly push lawmakers to abandon the state’s historically hands-off approach to regulation in favor of more stringent rules for aging condo buildings.

Following decades of denialism, more Florida Republicans have also begun to acknowledge the reality of climate change and the risks it poses for their coastal communities, paving the way for more aggressive, bipartisan efforts.

Florida’s state legislature recently authorized $640 million for climate resiliency initiatives, while the mayors of Miami, Miami Beach, and Miami-Dade County have rolled out a strategic plan outlining steps to prepare the region.

Some developers are also beginning to see a business case for investing in climate resilience.

“We need to understand about how much it’s going to cost, but ultimately… we found that the return on investment is significant and it will create thousands of jobs,” Alec Bogdanoff, CEO of Brizaga, a Florida-based civil and coastal engineering firm, told Insider.

“We’re not only investing in adaptation and resilience because we have to, but it’s actually a way to drive our economy and grow our economy,” he said.

But some experts worry that trying to adapt to the climate – through evolving construction techniques, pump systems, and raised buildings and sidewalks, for example – may still not be enough to save cities like Miami.

“Why the heck are we letting people build?”

“We know seawater is going to arrive,” Harold Wanless, a professor and chair of the department of geological science at the University of Miami, told Insider. “What we should be doing is saying: ‘Why the heck are we letting people build in an area that’s going to be flooded by rising sea levels?”

Wanless said that a 2-3 foot rise in sea level, which estimates predict could happen in Miami by 2060, would also cause 100 to 200 feet of beach erosion, a rate that would make it too expensive to combat by simply adding more sand.

“At that point, you don’t fight it, and we should be realizing that’s where we’re headed,” Wanless said.

But many still don’t, partly because various financial incentives keep pushing developers to build in high-risk areas, including their outsize influence over local politics and wealthy buyers’ ability to withstand losses, according to a report last year in Yale’s Environment360.

That report argues that the “narrow path for survival” for Florida’s coastal counties involves, among other strategies, “orderly retreats from most vulnerable coastal neighborhoods.”

But withdrawing from coastal properties, despite the science, would run up against another obstacle, according to Dahl: human nature.

“We’re still drawn to the water just as we always have been, and I think that’s going to be a really difficult cultural shift to make,” she said, especially given the lack of disclosure about climate risks in real estate listings.

In 2019, journalist Sarah Miller pretended to be interested in buying a luxury home in Miami Beach so she could ask realtors about climate-related risks, detailing the “cognitive dissonance” she witnessed in an article for Popula.

In response to a friend’s skepticism about whether cities could become climate-proof through resilience alone, Miller wrote: “This is the neoliberal notion, that the reasonable and mature way to think about this stuff is: Get more efficient and find the right incentives to encourage the right kinds of enterprise. But my friend wondered, what if the mature thing to do is to mourn – and then retreat?”

Read the original article on Business Insider

US military says huge explosive the Navy set off to test new aircraft carrier didn’t cause deadly condo collapse in Florida

Aerial view of the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida
Aerial view of the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida

  • A condo in Florida collapsed six days after an explosive Navy test, raising questions.
  • The military said the shock trials for its new carrier and the collapse are unrelated.
  • Experts backed that view, saying there was no “reasonable” connection between the two incidents.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Questions have been raised about whether an explosive Navy test of its new aircraft carrier hundreds of miles away played a part in the deadly collapse of a condo in Miami six days later. The Pentagon and experts say it didn’t.

On Friday, June 18, the Navy set off a 40,000 pound explosive in the Atlantic about 107 miles off the coast of Daytona Beach, Florida in shock trials for the new USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier. The blast registered as a 3.9 on the Richter scale.

Six days later, on June 24, Champlain Towers South, a 12-story condominium in Surfside, a Miami suburb over 250 miles away from the site of the Navy blast, partially collapsed. At least a dozen people have died, and more than one hundred people are still missing.

“I have seen nothing that will correlate the shock trial test with the terrible event today in South Florida,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said last Thursday. “Certainly our thoughts and prayers go out to everybody affected by that.”

The spokesman said that “we know we need to do this kind of testing for the whole of our major ships like aircraft carriers and that it’s an important opportunity to evaluate the structural integrity of the hull and its ability to handle a blast of that size.”

Kirby added that in choosing the location, “there’s a lot of factors” that are considered “to make sure that it’s as safe as it can possibly be.”

Navy aircraft carrier Gerald Ford during shock trials
US Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford completes the first scheduled explosive event of Full Ship Shock Trials in the Atlantic Ocean, June 18, 2021.

Navy spokesman Capt. Clay Doss said in an emailed statement that “the USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) Full Ship Shock Trials (FSST) occurred approximately 100 [nautical miles] off of the coast of Jacksonville, Florida.”

“There are no indications the tragic event in Miami is related to the test,” he said. “During FSST, the Navy considers a wide variety of environmental and safety factors to protect people, vessels and wildlife in the surrounding area.”

Paul Earle, a US Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center seismologist, explained to the Miami Herald that the size of the explosion set off by the Navy, the distance from the condo collapse, and the time between the two incidents made any connection very unlikely.

“We do not see any reasonable mechanism for the Navy explosion on June 18 to have triggered the collapse of the Miami Beach-area condo on June 24,” he said.

“There are about 300 earthquakes of similar size to the Navy explosion in the contiguous US every year, none of which have triggered a major building collapse,” Earle said, adding that California sees 3.9 magnitude earthquakes regularly.

Florida-based building engineer Frederick Shaffer explained to the local news outlet WPTV that it was unlikely the Navy test impacted the building in Surfside, where buildings are built to withstand hurricanes.

“A building designed to South Florida standards should survive your average earthquake in California,” he said.

A number of theories, ranging from foundation failures to construction damage, have been put forward, but for now, the cause of the deadly Surfside condo collapse remains unknown. And no single cause may be solely responsible for this tragedy.

Atorod Azizinamini, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Florida International University, told The Miami Herald that disasters like this tend to be the result of “a perfect storm of several factors coming together at the same time.”

Read the original article on Business Insider