Hearing scheduled on proposed $83 million Surfside settlement

Author: Lauren Pastrana / CBS Miami
This aerial photo shows part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed early Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett /South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

On Thursday, a hearing is scheduled to discuss the proposed $83 million settlement for those who lost their homes and all their belongings in the Surfside building collapse.

But for now, some of those survivors are getting by thanks to the generosity of their own neighbors, who say they have not been forgotten.

“We are here to be more helpful,” said Rabbi Sholom Lipskar of The Shul of Bal Harbour. “There’s always an open door here.”

The Shul of Bal Harbour in partnership with the Global Empowerment Mission distributed close to $120,000 worth of rental relief to survivors of the Champlain Towers South tragedy.

GEM’s founder Michael Capponi joined the event virtually because he is currently in Slovakia assisting refugees of the war in Ukraine.

“Even though we’re involved in the Ukraine crisis and missions all around the world, we’re never going to forget about our backyard,” said Kimberley Bentley, the Ground Operations Director for Global Empowerment Mission.

Newly-elected Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger said his administration is focused on helping survivors and honoring the victims.

“The families that lost everything are still on our minds. The Torah compares someone who has lost everything to someone who is dead,” Mayor Danzinger said. “Thankfully that’s not the case. But we still support you and do whatever we can.”

People like Eric Zion and Daniela Silva say they appreciate that support.

“It’s really more so the psychological aspect of it. They’re here for you to listen to what you have to say. They’re really amazing people. Someone to lean on,” Zion said.

“I’m very grateful that we’re still getting all this help from The Shul and from GEM,” Silva added.

Silva says she received $5,500 to offset some expenses while they still wait for a possible legal settlement.

“The rent’s crazy in Miami now. We still have our bills to pay plus our rent. We still don’t know what’s going to happen with the building situation. Once everything is settled we are going to move on but we’re not there yet,” Silva said. “Tomorrow is court and it’s going to be a big day. I hope things get a little better for us, the survivors. So far we’re not getting recognized as survivors, just as an economic loss.”

Surfside city leaders are holding a special meeting Tuesday to discuss a future memorial and signage honoring the victims at the site.

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