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‘We need a place’: Surfside building collapse survivors still need help after tragedy

Philanthropist Michael Capponi says some survivors of Surfside building collapse don’t have money to pay rent and need help

DORAL, Fla. – Steve Rosenthal and Zulia Taub were among the survivors of the Surfside building collapse that killed 98 people and rendered dozens homeless. They attended a nonprofit organization’s event to receive aid on Wednesday in Doral.

Rosenthal and Taub escaped with their lives leaving all of their belongings in Champlain Towers South, after a section collapsed and the other was demolished. They lost everything.

“He handed me a kit with an electric toothbrush. I will never forget it ... power charger, all types and kinds of lotions and potions that you need, pre-paid credit card, and you know when you’ve only got the shirt over your back, a pre-paid credit card was pretty good,” Rosenthal said about his first meeting with Michael Capponi.

Surfside survivors met Wednesday in Doral at the headquarters of a nonprofit organization that is determined to help them start a new life.

Capponi, the president of Global Empowerment Mission, a nonprofit organization based out of Doral, said each of the survivors will eventually receive about $10,000 each from the Miami-Dade County attorney for the receivership. The court determined there will be $150 million in initial compensation that will be divided among the families of the victims who died and the survivors. But as of Wednesday, Capponi said many of the survivors he was in contact with didn’t have enough money in their bank accounts to pay rent.

GEM and its partners have helped with more than $340,000 in gift cards and they are focusing on providing help for rentals with payments for the first and last months and deposit needed to start a lease. GEM is looking for partners to help pay their year’s rent.

Surfside survivors met Wednesday in Doral at the headquarters of a nonprofit organization that is determined to help them start a new life.

GEM is partnering with Good360 and Walmart to help them set up their apartments. Both Rosenthal and Taub said they and others need the help.

“The first help that we received has been incredible. It has been like a lifesaver, but after that lifesaver, we need a rock to stay. We need a place. We need to begin a life,” Taub said.

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Assignment Desk Manager Kerry Weston contributed to this report.


About the Author:

Liane Morejon is an Emmy-winning reporter who joined the Local 10 News family in January 2010. Born and raised in Coral Gables, Liane has a unique perspective on covering news in her own backyard.