By Joan Murray

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For the fortunate who survived the collapse of the Champlain Towers South in late June, getting basic help early on was simple. Support poured in from people offering clothing, meals, and even lodging in the short term.

The long-term solution, however, is proving problematic.

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More than one hundred residents escaped with little more than the clothes on their backs. Wallets with identification, passports, and valuable documents were left behind. What didn’t get destroyed in the initial collapse was lost in the demolition of the remaining portion of the unsteady structure.

For the survivors, starting over is a process.

CBS4 spoke Monday to a woman who survived the collapse and lost everything. The mother of five children was a renter at the condo. She said each day is an ordeal just to prove identification.

“I don’t have documents. My son needs a doctor’s appointment and every day I have to explain the situation to someone,'” she said.

The woman is living in a Surfside hotel with her children. She doesn’t know how much longer the Red Cross will be able to help her with lodging. She has been searching for a new apartment but finding a place isn’t simple.

“There is not that much available and it is more expensive than before. I might have to move elsewhere,” she said.

For the uninsured who lost everything, getting help means persisting through a maze of federal and state application processes and often relying on charitable groups.

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But even for those with insurance, there will be a wait. Condo owners must file claims with home, auto, and life insurance companies. If they don’t know which companies they were
insured with and have no paperwork, they may have to do some digging.

J.D. Underwood is a Dania Beach attorney who specializes in insurance claims. He said, “For survivors of the deceased, it may be necessary to look through electronic data,” to see if the person carried life insurance to file a claim.

Underwood also said depending on the type of home insurance policy a condo owner carried, they may be eligible for only contents in the condo and not the value of the property.

“There’s no guarantee they will be made whole,” he said.

The condo building was insured but there are indications it was ‘under-insured.’

The land is valued at more than one hundred million dollars but it is unknown whether it will be sold at a future date and to what degree the tenants will receive any money. A receiver has been appointed to handle the complicated financial matters associated with the building.

There are several pending lawsuits that have been filed.

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The state of Florida has set up a website,, for Surfside survivors and families of the deceased whose needs are unmet.