If it happened in your district, what would you do?
From the first moments after the collapse, State Senator Jason Pizzo, (D) Miami, has spent every day but one at the Champlain Towers site.
“The first day was the most heart-wrenching because into the first full daylight, we had dads and brothers and sisters and grandparents like, just let me go to the site, my son’s there, my daughter’s there, my mom is there. You realize how small the world really is when something like this happens,” Pizzo said.
For the past two weeks, there’s been a bipartisan response to the calamity, with local, state, and national leaders putting politics aside to concentrate on dealing with the issues at hand. Nearly every day, the governor, the mayor, members of Congress, county commissioners and other officials speak to the public at the twice-daily news briefings. Pizzo hasn’t spoken from the podium at all, not even once, preferring to work behind the scenes. Often, he says, he’s the liaison between first responders and families who are hoping to retrieve the remains of their loved ones.
His Twitter feed, however, has become a source of information and updates on the search and rescue process, with the senator often posting videos and pictures he takes himself. Pizzo says his main responsibility has been helping the victims find answers.
“You have people that feel different kinds of ways, you have people that have hope, they’re holding out, hoping for a miraculous rescue and you have others who just want prompt recovery so they can have closure,” Pizzo said.
Families of the victims take first priority, and right behind them are all the survivors who lost their homes, people who are grateful just to be alive.
“But they need to rebuild their life, too, we have people who need clothes and housing, and yesterday we were helping with referrals for people for apartments to move into,” Pizzo said.
SURFSIDE CONDO COLLAPSE
Pizzo was at a victim’s funeral Tuesday. He says even as a former prosecutor, who dealt with violence and death, he wasn’t prepared for destruction on this monumental scale.
“I’m used to having a villain, used to having a bad guy in a situation where a number of lives were lost, presumed lost, and there’s no immediate villain, there’s no bad guy to point to, it’s not an act of terrorism or war, it’s not instantly malicious, it’s just years of neglect,” Pizzo said, describing the collapse.
The Champlain Towers disaster will reverberate in Tallahassee, Pizzo says, and will lead to changes in laws.