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State Launches Website To Provide Surfside Assistance, Warns Of GoFundMe Scams

Rescue workers dig through rubble
Lynne Sladky
Rescue workers search the rubble of the Champlain Towers South condominium, Saturday in the Surfside area of Miami. The building partially collapsed on Thursday.

Florida has created a new website that pools together federal, state and community efforts to help victims, families and first responders affected by the Surfside collapse, amid warnings of GoFundMe scams.

On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the creation of a new website for survivors, families, first responders and those affected by the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium building in the Miami suburb of Surfside.

Federal, state, local, private sector and nonprofit partners created the SurfsideStrength.com platform to allow people to report missing and found individuals, connect with mental health resources, and donate to credible charities working with the Surfside community.

Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said imposter websites have already popped up to scam people trying to help the victims of the Surfside tragedy. Suspected fraud can be reported at FraudFreeFlorida.com.

With all the good I’ve been witness to, however, we are starting to get reports of false GoFundMe websites that are stealing from this effort. It’s disgusting — and as far as I’m concerned — it’s right up there with looting after a hurricane," Patronis said in a news release.

“To people that want to help this effort, please make sure your putting your hard-earned money into a credible organization that will help the families that have been truly impacted by this collapse.”

Also on Thursday, The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved an Administrative Declaration for Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier and Monroe counties.

This provides economic injury disaster loans, business physical disaster loans and home disaster loans to people impacted by the collapse.

State officials say there are currently more than 440 first responders and state workers on-site — including a team from the greater Tampa Bay region — to support ongoing search and recovery efforts.

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.