SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - As questions about the cause of the condominium building collapse in Surfside linger, newly surfaced reports reveal several warning signs.
The town of Surfside has hired a well-respected engineer to try to determine what went wrong.
“I had a private meeting with the engineer today they hired to advise the town,” said Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett. “Now, this gentleman, he’s the same engineer that was advising when the Pentagon was hit by airplanes on 9/11. He is the same engineer hired to work on the FIU bridge issue.”
A condo owner said late last year an official from Surfside told him the building was in good shape.
While search efforts continue, attention has also turned to the big question as to how something like this could have happened.
“I want answers. I want major answers,” said Champlain Towers South resident Susana Alvarez. “That was my home. I was going to retire there. That was my home.”
Alvarez lived in the tower that collapsed, and she made it out alive. She described the horror she experienced in an interview with National Public Radio.
“When we got outside again, all I could hear were the people screaming,” she said. “They were screaming, ‘Help, help! Someone help us,’ They were screaming. There were people alive in there.”
Major concerns were raised in a field survey report in 2018 that pointed to a concrete slab below the pool deck with cracking in the parking garage.
Morabito Consultants conducted the survey that was released by Surfside.
The report states:
“[T]he waterproofing below the pool deck and entrance drive as well as all of the planter waterproofing is beyond its useful life and therefore must all be completely removed and replaced. The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially…”
Pictures from the report show cracking at the edge of balconies and notes complaints from owners about water intrusion.
A company engineer even said there was a major error in the original development: water accumulation and concrete deterioration.
In a statement from Morabito Consultants to 7News, the firm stated in 2018:
“Our report detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete, which required repairs to ensure the safety of the residents and public.”
“I want you to know that in 2018, we had a board meeting, and we sat there with the town of Surfside,” said Alvarez, “and the town of Surfside said to us that the building was not in bad shape, that the building was not in bad shape.”
An email between town officials shows a meeting between the condo board and the town did take place in November and that the Morabito report was completed in October.
An attorney for the building’s condominium association spoke to CNN after the collapse.
“Nothing appeared, either to the engineers or to any of the residents, that would suggest anything like this was imminent,” he said.
Morabito consultants said it was brought in again in June 2020 to prepare a “40-year building repair and restoration” plan.
The firm said, “At the time of the building collapse, roof repairs were underway, but concrete restoration had not yet begun. Our firm exclusively provides engineering consulting services. We do not provide construction-related services, such as building repair and restoration contracting.”
The town has since hired an engineer to do a deep dive on what went wrong at 88th Street and Collins Avenue.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has sent a team of scientists and engineers to help gather information on site.
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