SURFSIDE, Fla. - As rescue crews from around the nation and even other countries arrive to assist in the aftermath of the tragic condo collapse in Surfside, Fla., finding a place for them to stay has been a difficult task – particularly over the Fourth of July weekend.
But the Royal Caribbean Group has stepped in to help with that, sending its Explorer of the Seas cruise ship to provide a comfortable place to stay and meals for some 600 responders over the coming weeks. Search dogs are welcome aboard, too.
"This tragedy in our own backyard is heart-wrenching," Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with the families and our whole community, and our thanks go out to the hardworking search and rescue teams. Providing them shelter is a small way to show our support."
The cruise company received a nod of gratitude from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for the gesture. The governor tweeted Friday, "More than 440 USAR members from New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, and Indiana are on the ground in Surfside to help supplement the search and rescue efforts. Florida is grateful for the outpouring of support. Thanks to @RoyalCaribbean for providing accommodations!"
Royal Caribbean scrambled over the past 24 hours to make the Explorer of the Seas' stay in PortMiami happen, gaining clearance from DeSantis' office, Miami-Dade County, the CDC and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
"This incredible act of kindness and generosity from our friends at Royal Caribbean is deeply appreciated by our entire community," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said according to WTVJ-TV. "Over the past nine days, our first responders have been working under dangerous, stressful conditions to move our search and rescue mission forward through so many unprecedented challenges."
She added, "These accommodations will provide them with a much-needed respite and opportunity to rest and recharge for their next shift and are yet another example of how our local and global community has come together in the aftermath of tragedy."