Nearly $750,000 in Cash, 17 Safes Recovered From Surfside Condo Collapse Site

Authorities have recovered substantial personal property from the Surfside, Florida, condo collapse that killed 90 people, the Associated Press reported. A judge overseeing litigation from the tragedy heard a plan outline that includes separating items into categories of soft and hard material.

Roughly $750,000 in cash was pulled from the rubble of the collapsed building as well as 17 safes, according to a lawyer appointed to manage the legal interests of the Champlain Towers South. Family members and survivors will be reimbursed faster for cash that was found in a wallet or purse with an ID because it is easily identifiable.

Paper bills will be brought to the U.S. Treasury in Washington via armored vehicle to be destroyed because they are contaminated. Checks will be issued in their place, court documents said.

The lawyer, Michael Goldberg, said he anticipates the owners of the safes will be easy to identify by their contents. Survivors and family members will have a chance to obtain their loved ones' belongings by providing a description of the contents.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Surfside Collapse
Roughly $750,000 in cash and 17 safes were pulled from the rubble of the collapsed Champlain Towers South Condo building in Surfside, Florida. as well as 17 safes. Above, rescue workers work in the rubble on June 25, 2021. Gerald Herbert, File/AP Photo

Only the hard items collected by Miami-Dade police officers, rescue personnel and firefighters from the rubble where the Champlain Towers South building once stood will be returned to survivors and family members of those killed, officials said in court documents.

That's because the moisture-absorbing soft items, including clothing and bedding, would cost millions of dollars to decontaminate per EPA guidelines, they said.

The exception to the rule are photos, which Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has made a priority to return to survivors, Goldberg said during a hearing Thursday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

"As the court and everyone else understands, that can be some of the most important treasures," Goldberg said.

"We are going to have claims for cash that far exceed what is coming back," Goldberg said, noting that many bills were destroyed during the condo building's collapse. Already, some people have made claims for tens of thousands of dollars, he said.

For property whose owners can't be identified, the items will be photographed, numbered and uploaded to a limited-access website. Survivors and family members have a month to make claims to the items they believe belong to them.

If there are competing claims, and Goldberg is unable to resolve the dispute, a hearing will be held before Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman, who is presiding over the litigation.

Surfside Memorial
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava visits the memorial where the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South building stood in Surfside, Florida, on August 24, 2021. CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images