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Residents of Collapsed Miami Condo Were Told It Was Safe Despite ‘Major Structural Damage’

Surfside town officials told residents of the Champlain Towers Condominiums in a November 2018 meeting “that the building was not in bad shape.”

But an engineer had warned a month earlier that there was evidence of “major structural damage” below the building’s pool deck.

The engineering consultant, Frank Morabito, had been hired to get a start on a 40-year recertification process, as is required under the Miami-Dade County building code. His report was released by Surfside officials Friday and included pictures of what he wrote was “abundant cracking” and crumbling in the underground parking garage of the 12-story building. Morabito also said the waterproofing below the pool deck and entrance drive was failing, “causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas.”

Morabito recommended that concrete slabs, which were “showing distress” by the entrance and pool deck, “be removed and replaced in their entirety.” He said the concrete deterioration should “be repaired in a timely fashion.” His assessment was eerily prescient:  “Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially,” he said.

Champlain Towers South was built in 1981 and was undergoing a roof replacement to be in compliance with the report when half the building fell early Thursday morning. With over 150 residents still unaccounted for on Monday as rescue efforts continued in the wake of the partial collapse of the South Tower early Thursday morning, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava delivered the sad news that another body had been recovered, bringing the death toll to 10.

Harkening back to images of 9/11, a chain-link fence surrounding the rubble has been turned into a makeshift memorial and billboard for the families of the missing.

Lost in the reports of the tragedy is the number of residents who survived the collapse: 135, according to Mayor Levine Cava. Rescue efforts are continuing, but have been hindered by fires under the rubble.

[This is a continuing and developing story. Please check back for updates.]



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