Dept. Of Economic Opportunity Surveying Surfside Businesses Impacted By Collapse – NBC 6 South Florida

Surfside businesses are pitching in to help those impacted by the Champlain Towers South collapse. 

“I wanted to volunteer and do something. And this is the best way that I can do it,” Shemi Varnatan, the owner of VISH Vegetarian Restaurant in Surfside.   

The staff at VISH has been preparing and delivering food for the families impacted by the Champlain Towers South Collapse. 


“I’m with the families, with all my heart, because I know it is very hard,” Varnatan said. 

While they focus on helping those in need, the Department of Economic Opportunity is in town to find out how businesses have been impacted due to the recent disaster. 

“This is an open-ended disaster that we are trying to address,” DEO Director Dane Eagle said Wednesday.  

Surfside’s business district is just blocks away from the Champlain Tower collapse site. With many streets partially closed to thru traffic so emergency vehicles can get through, it has resulted in less foot traffic and customers to local businesses. 

“They are putting their needs aside, they are providing free hair cuts to first responders, food, you name it, but while they are doing that they cannot give away everything for free forever, they are losing revenue, they are losing income, they have to pay their employees,” Eagle said. 

DEO representatives are asking businesses to complete the Florida Business Damage Assessment Survey.

The survey gathers information on how the Surfside tower collapse is impacting the local community and businesses. 

“We have some resources available, we also are working with the Small Business Administration, the SBA at the federal level, they indicated they want to be helpful, they may be able to open up some funds that would be low interest loans these businesses could tap into,” Eagle said. 

Varnatan said they completed the survey and hopes the business will qualify for help. 

“Once I closed three days because nobody was here,” Varnatan said.