Surfside Building Collapse: World Central Kitchen and Miami Restaurants Aid Victims

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A morning glimpse of the devastation caused by the collapse of the Champlain Towers condominium in Surfside.

Photo by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue via Twitter The quaint coastal community of Surfside was rocked in the wee hours of the morning when half of an oceanfront condo collapsed.

Twelve hours later, 99 people remain missing as fire services continue at the Champlain Towers site, according to Alfredo Ramirez, Miami-Dade police director.

Residents of the undamaged portion of the building, as well as families waiting to hear from their loved ones, are cared for in a variety of locations, including a makeshift reunification center at the Surfside Community Center and the Grand Beach Hotel near Collins Avenue.

At dawn, chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen (WCK) mobilized to provide convenience in the form of meals, as did many members of Miami’s restaurant community.

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Monica Majors, who leads the Florida ground team for WCK, says her people were on site around 10 a.m. to take care of the people displaced by the accident as well as the first responders who were on site. “We were able to activate first thing this morning,” says Majors New Times.

Majors called their network of restaurants and food trucks in the Miami area that worked with WCK during the pandemic, and many local establishments responded.

“There’s a lot of support at the moment,” she says. “The strategy is to stagger the aid because we don’t know how long people will need it.”

According to majors, companies large and small are lending a hand. Publix has donated fruit and sandwiches, Dunkin ‘Donuts has coffee, and the Miami Heat has offered to help in any way they can. “There was a caravan of support across the 79th Street Causeway,” says Majors.

Brian and Fatima Mullins drove their Ms. Cheezious Food Truck to Grand Beach to prepare and distribute grilled cheese sandwiches and fries. Brian Mullins tells the New Times that the truck arrived at the hotel around noon and was still being served four hours later.

“We cook in the truck and bring the families sandwiches,” he says. “Hopefully a meal will take your mind off what’s going on for a minute.”

Mullins describes the building’s tenants as “tired” and adds, “They’ve all been up since two in the morning”.

Cuban Guys, a local chain, has been supplying first responders, and Hometown BBQ will be doing dinner service tonight. Michelle Bernstein and the staff at Cafe la Trova will also step in at some point.

It doesn’t stop there.

Majors says almost every establishment on the Surfside “strip” of restaurants along Collins Avenue has asked how they can help.

“The whole church,” she says. “If I’ve left someone out, it’s because I’ve been working all day.”

Josh Marcus, who owns Josh’s Deli, offered to open his Harding Avenue restaurant to anyone who needed WiFi, electricity, or just a place to sit.

“I watched the building collapse all day and wondered what I could do,” he says. “I figured if someone can’t get into their building, I can offer them a safe place.”

Marcus says many small businesses are trying to figure out how best to help their neighbors. “It’s a small town in Miami. Surfside is a community and we come together to see how we can help.”

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