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How the South Fla. Community Is Rallying Around Families Whose Loved Ones Are Missing in Condo Collapse

·5-min read

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue/Twitter The aftermath of the collapse of the Surfside Condo

The South Florida community has bonded together to create resources to help those affected by the condo collapse outside of Miami.

At least one person has died in the tragedy and 99 people are still unaccounted for as of Thursday evening.

Several families have been displaced. To combat this, Miami officials have set up a family reunification hotline number (305-614-1819).

Surfside Commissioner Eliana Salzhauer tells PEOPLE that DNA samples are also being collected to match family members with the missing.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is encouraging tenants of the building to complete a Wellness Check Form to ensure everyone is accounted for.

Residents of the condo can also go to the Family Assistance Center at the Surfside Community Center located at 9301 Collins Avenue for shelter and support.

RELATED: At Least 1 Dead After Multistory Condo Building in Miami Collapses: 'This is a Horrific Catastrophe'

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Meanwhile, for those outside of Florida who want to help, the American Red Cross is accepting donations and are seeking volunteers in the upcoming days to work with the South Florida Chapter, the organization announced, adding, "The group is providing food at the family reunification center and trained volunteers are providing mental health support for survivors."

Salzhauer tells PEOPLE the organization has already been helpful in giving immediate assistance to survivors.

"The Red Cross has stepped in and put displaced families in hotels, arranged for transportation, provided food, clothing, everything needed for displaced residents," Salzhauer says.

She also notes that people have been bringing food to the Surfside Community Center to help one another. A website, supportsurfside.org, has also been set up to donate and support those directly impacted by the tragedy.

"It's nice to see the community come together, everyone wants to help," Salzhauer says.

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RELATED: Family of Paraguay's First Lady are Among 99 People Missing in Fla. Condo Collapse

Community members have also pitched in to help families financially. A GoFundMe page was set up to raise money that will "be distributed to the families that are forced to be relocated and the families of the victims." The page has a goal of $100,000.

Steve Stowe, the vice president and executive director of the Miami Heat Charitable Fund, announced on Thursday that the organization's partners at World Central Kitchen and Direct Relief have banded together to help the victims of the collapse. In a joint effort they plan to "deliver more hot meals and food trucks and help with some of the displaced victims," Stowe told the Tampa Bay Times.

World Kitchen shared photos of their efforts on Thursday, revealing food trucks Ms. Cheezious and Cuban Guys are at the scene to deliver food.

Miami Heat player Tyler Herro and assistant coach Chris Quinn also arrived on the scene on Thursday to help hand out water bottles and snacks.

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RELATED: Man Says He Has 'No Hope' After Collapse of Miami Condo Where His Mother and Grandmother Lived

Locally, The Shul Jewish Community Center is accepting donations on its website to help aid families. Rabbi Sholom Lipskar tragically told News 7 Miami that at least 13 members of his synagogue are missing as a result of the collapse.

The Jewish non-profit organization Cadena Foundation is also providing assistance. The charity asked people on Instagram to bring sweatshirts, phone chargers, drinks, pillows and snacks to 1850 NE 183rd Street in North Miami Beach, Fl. You can also donate online at cadena.ngo/en.

And nationally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is currently on the scene assessing damage and is due to provide assistance following the backing of President Joe Biden during a press conference, an emergency order signed by Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine, and the crucial signature of Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis who declared a state of emergency.

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The 12-story, 136-unit Surfside apartment complex partially collapsed around 1:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, Ray Jadallah, assistant fire chief of operations for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, said at a press conference later that day.

Of the 136 units, about 55 collapsed, and search and rescue teams were able to pull out 35 occupants trapped in the building. An additional 10 people were assessed and treated, and two of those people were hospitalized, Jadallah said. CNN reported that one of those two people later died of their injuries.

Footage captured from the scene of the collapse showed heroic rescues of people trapped inside. A total of 53 people have been accounted for.

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