The following is a transcript of an interview with Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava airing Sunday, June 27, 2021, on “Face the Nation.”
JOHN DICKERSON: Joining us now is the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Daniella Levine Cava, who joins us from Surfside. Mayor Cava, thank you for being with us. Our hearts go out to you and your community. Can you give us an update on the latest?
MIAMI DADE COUNTY MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA: The good news, we were able to control the fire and the smoke as of noon on Saturday. So Saturday afternoon and through the night on Sunday, there was clear visibility. Search continued. They’re- they’re, of course, doing everything from above. They’re using the sonar, the cameras, the dogs. They- they have the tunneling below. And they created a trench to separate the smoky area from the not-smoky area to be able to proceed unabated.
JOHN DICKERSON: In these kinds of situations, there’s always a difficult moment between switching from rescue to recovery, all of the risks taken for rescue. That changes when you move to a recovery. It’s been three and a half days. Is that- is that time nearing that it’ll switch from a rescue effort to a recovery?
MAYOR CAVA: We are in search and rescue and we have just been joined by an additional search and rescue team from Israel. We had already some Mexican experts on scene. Everybody that is needed is on the site and doing the work. And we’re continuing our efforts to find people alive.
JOHN DICKERSON: While those rescue efforts continue. There’s also the question of what are the contributing factors. Normally, nobody wants to jump to any kinds of conclusions. In this case, there is some urgency because there is some worry that anything that might have contributed here might affect other buildings. Do you have a sense of the contributing factors and how is that affecting how you think about other buildings in the area?
MAYOR CAVA: I’m definitely focused on the search and rescue operation. We are working with our regulatory staff at the county to review all buildings that are approaching or at their 40 year recertification and beyond to make sure that everything is in order with their recertification. So we’re doing a deep dive over the next 30 days to assess if anything further is needed with any of those buildings. And some of the cities are taking their own actions because I’m responsible for the county buildings outside of cities and the cities have their own process.
JOHN DICKERSON: Those in the northern building, should they be concerned about staying?
MAYOR CAVA: So here in Surfside, the developer of this tower also developed another building. the mayor of Surfside has offered, and I’m supportive of anyone there who wants to evacuate, will be supported to do that. But the building inspector for Surfside went and did not find anything to cause concern. They are sending in others to do a more detailed review of that building’s structure.
JOHN DICKERSON: We’ve all been struck by the grief and the staggering amount of sadness, what’s being done in the community to handle the emotional portion of this tragedy.
MAYOR CAVA: The families are together in the family assistance center that’s been established and their numbers are swelling as people come from around the country and around the world to be here on site, a vigil until more news is known and we have every possible support for them. We have grief counselors. We have clergy of every sort, and we have the community. The community is really providing the support for each other and the inner circle of those who are directly affected and the whole community. Surfside is on standby for this important time and in solidarity and the whole world, we feel the support of the whole world for us right here in Surfside.
JOHN DICKERSON: And Mayor, how about you? You haven’t been in the job long. Can you give us some insight into what it’s like to handle the emotional and logistical challenge of something no one can ever imagine having to be prepared for?
MAYOR CAVA: I- I thank God that I’ve had 65 years of experience and wisdom to contribute to this situation. Clearly nothing I ever anticipated and something that I am fully dedicated to addressing with all of my might.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right, Daniella Levine Cava. Mayor, we are very grateful for you being with us. And good luck.
MAYOR CAVA: Thank you.
JOHN DICKERSON: Thank you. FACE THE NATION will be back in one moment. Stay with us.