NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - The City of North Miami Beach has ordered the evacuation of a condo building due to unsafe conditions.
The North Miami Beach Building Department ordered the immediate evacuation of the Crestview Towers Condominium due to unsafe structural and electrical conditions.
North Miami Beach City Manager Arthur Sorey and other city officials addressed the evacuation in a news conference, Friday evening.
“Being in that building right now is not safe, and that’s our number one concern,” said Sorey.
The evacuation comes after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside and the subsequent push by South Florida municipalities ordering reviews of residential high-rise buildings.
North Miami Beach officials launched an investigation and review of all high-rises above five stories to determine whether they are in compliance with the county and the city’s 40-year certification process.
A report by an engineer dated Jan. 11, turned into the city Friday afternoon, states the 156-unit Crestview Towers is “not structurally nor electrically safe for continued occupancy.”
The engineer also found spalling, which means deterioration or breakage, at several locations.
No pictures were included in the report.
“We just received it at approximately 2 p.m. this afternoon,” said Sorey.
“Wow, amazing. That’s really, really, really, really bad, knowing that I have my family in there,” said Romado Stephens, who moved out of Crestview Towers last year.
Current Crestview Towers residents who spoke with 7News said news of the evacuation came as a surprise.
“Nobody knew. I didn’t know that the building was deemed unsafe since January, and now it’s what, July 2?” said Harold Dauphin.
Dauphin and his son joins scores of other families from the high-rise who were forced to leave.
Some residents said they were not told why, just to get out, with no explanation.
“The police stopped us and said, ‘Get all your stuff and get out,'” said a resident. “We were just coming over here to hang out, until all of a sudden they said, ‘You gotta leave.’ What can we do?”
“I went out there, and I asked some people by the elevator what was going on, and they said, ‘You just have to get out,'” said another resident. “I said, ‘Do you know when we can come back?’ She said, ‘No.'”
Stephens recorded cellphone video of water that he said continuously flowed from the ceiling of the garage, as well as flooding on the fifth floor.
“This is the reason why I left from this place, because of the bad pipes and the flooding of the building,” he said. “I was paying $1,400 in rent, and they’re not keeping up the building.”
A 7News viewer sent in pictures of what appears to be cracks near some of the building’s windows.
“All those cracks, they’re all over where the windows are. That can go down,” said the viewer. “Every time it’s thundering and lightning, the windows, like, shake.”
At the start of a holiday weekend, and with the possibility of Hurricane Elsa sweeping near or across South Florida, residents are being forced to leave carrying whatever they can.
“I ran here right away, because this is important for me,” said North Miami Beach Commissioner Fortuna Smukler. “I needed to make sure that what happened in Surfside doesn’t happen here.”
City officials said they are working overtime to keep everyone safe.
“It is uncertain what’s going to happen with the storm, so we don’t want to not take action and something happen and we knew about it,” said Sorey.
The North Miami Beach Police Department is assisting the condo association with the safe and orderly evacuation of its residents. The City is also working with the American Red Cross to find temporary shelter for displaced residents who do not have somewhere else to stay.
Late Friday night, crews outside the building passed out supplies to residents.
Residents without a place to stay were being bussed to E. Darwin Fuchs Pavilion at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition site in West Miami-Dade.
City officials said repairs at Crestview Towers are going to be so expensive and so extensive that it’s difficult to say when residents will be allowed to return.
As of Friday night, 20 people were confirmed to have died and 126 people remain missing after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo building.
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