By Austin Carter

SURFSIDE (CBSMiami) – The once bustling community of Surfside has shut down not only to mourn, but to make way for the first responders still searching for those unaccounted for.

“It’s just sadness a lot of sadness in the community a lot of grief, it’s been really hard,” says Lourdes Elias, owner of Amoris Flowers.

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Businesses from barbershops to restaurants along Harding Ave. near the horrific high-rise condo collapse remain at an eerie standstill.

“Even when it’s busy, it’s hard to get around. Ever since COVID, especially, we are so happy to see places thriving an people happy and on vacation – and it’s hard to see it now,” says Ronit Blisko, who lives in Surfside. “We try. We donate money, food, our time, but it doesn’t feel like enough.”

Collins Ave. remains closed from 81 St. to 91st St.

Harding Ave. is closed as well from 81 St. to 96th St.

They’re both closed to the public except for those who live there, hotel staff and guests, along with business owners, employees, and customers.

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“Everywhere we turn its reporters, police rescue teams you name it, and the streets are empty,” says Chani Lapkowski, who lives in the area.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is now stepping in to help.

“We’ve spoken with dozens of businesses who are putting their needs aside and helping these first responders whether it be through food, we’ve talked to cafes and small barbershops who are offering free haircuts now while they’re doing that they’re not doing their normal business and they have a need that needs to be met,” says DEO Secretary Dane Eagle.

The state is urging businesses who need help to visit www.floridadisaster.biz.

“These surveys that these businesses can assess and do online will help to bring down those funds as we continue to help those suffering, but those businesses helping first responders,” says Eagle.

Eagle says the state is focused on making sure business owners in Surfside are aware.

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The state is requesting the assistance of the Small Business Administration at the federal level to get additional funds.