Miami-Dade, Florida – According to a plan outlined before a judge overseeing litigation from the tragedy, personal property recovered from the destroyed units of a South Florida condo building that collapsed will be divided into items of soft material and hard material.
Officials said in court documents that only the hard items collected will be returned to survivors and family members of those killed.
They said that’s because the moisture-absorbing soft items would cost millions of dollars to decontaminate per EPA guidelines.
According to Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, the exception to the rule are photos, that are set as a priority to return to survivors.
“As the court and everyone else understands, that can be some of the most important treasures,” Goldberg said.
Family members and survivors will be reimbursed somewhat quickly for cash that is easily identifiable, either because it was in a wallet or purse with an ID such as a driver’s license.
The actual paper bills will be transported by armored car to the U.S. Treasury in Washington, where they will be destroyed since they are contaminated. They will be replaced with checks, according to court documents.
“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.
According to Goldberg, seventeen safes also have been recovered, and she said he expects the owners for most of them to be identified by their contents.
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.