Construction crews prepare for possible impact from Hurricane Irma

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Construction crews throughout South Florida are working overtime in preparation for Hurricane Irma.

William Cuesta of Cuesta Construction said the clock is ticking for his construction crew.

“The temporary fencing that we have right now, we’re gonna have to take it down,” said Cuesta.

For 14 months, the crew has been working on a project on 12th Street and Collins Avenue in Miami Beach.

As Hurricane Irma makes its way through the Atlantic Ocean, Cuesta and his crew only have a couple of days to secure the site.

“Everybody here has their own homes that they need to get ready. We really can’t wait for the official announcement,” said Cuesta.

Preparations include:

  • Removing all loose building materials to keep debris from flying
  • Taking down bridges and scaffolding
  • Boarding up open spaces
  • Securing large equipment

Crews are also going underground.

“We brought in the oil company to clean up the well,” said Cuesta.

Construction crews across South Florida have essentially stopped building and are bracing for the worst.

“We pretty much have the same kind of timeline, all of us do — 72 hours out, 48 hours out, 24 hours out,” said Peter Dyga, CEO of Associated Builders and Contractions.

From Fort Lauderdale to Fisher Island, construction crews are busy as Irma barrels west.

On Tuesday, city of Miami officials issued a serious warning for residents living in high-rises near construction cranes to clear out.

City officials said that the 20-25 construction cranes in the city are not designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane.

They said the tower cranes are designed to withstand winds up to 145 miles per hour.

“Never a concern of mine. I was like, ‘My car will be safe. Everything is safe,'” said resident Melissa Ramirez. “Like, ‘We’re in Miami, they know about these buildings and the set up.’ But I really did not think about that at all.”

Officials warned that the arms of the cranes are not tied down and have to remain loose. The arm’s heavy counterbalance poses a potential danger if a crane collapses.

“I didn’t think that was possible with the cranes. I haven’t even thought of that, actually,” said Brickell resident Robert Cassaras.

Residents living in a high-rise who have decided not to evacuate are advised to take cover in an interior, cement stairwell.

“I’m either going to go to my family’s house in South Miami. I wasn’t going to stay in the high-rise,” said Cassaras.

“Best building code in the world, which, by the way, we have here in South Florida, is not gonna protect us completely against the kind of damage storms like this can do,” said Dyga.

Experts said most construction sites across South Florida should be secured by Thursday.

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