Stimulus Check Up | Apr 8, 2022 | 0
Officials are inspecting nearby buildings after the sudden collapse in South Florida
Families of the victims of the Champlain Towers South collapse who were unable to make it to the site visit yesterday will be bused over Monday, according to officials.
Maggie Castro, spokeswoman with Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue, told CNN the families will be bused from the family reunification center at 2:00 pm ET.
About 200 visited the site yesterday, Castro told CNN Monday.
“There was a “combination of emotions,” Castro said. “We all process things differently, for some it was a better understanding of what we’re dealing with. For others it was closure.”
Castro was part of a briefing with family members of the missing inside the reunification center Monday morning, which was closed to the media.
Crews continue to search for survivors under the rubble after a building collapse in Surfside, Florida. Although the cause of the collapse remains unknown, information from an inspection report from 2018 shows that a structural engineering firm “detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete,” a statement from the firm said Saturday.
This is prompting city leaders in the area to review their building recertifcation protocols to ensure their buildings are safe.
Here’s what nearby cities are doing:
Sunny Isles Beach: The city located around 5 miles north of Surfside will begin sending teams to inspect buildings Monday after announcing Saturday that they would modify the existing process for 40-year recertifications of buildings, Vice Mayor Larisa Svechin told CNN. “We are immediately putting in plans to check 59 buildings that are either at the 40-year mark or have just went through the 40-year recertification because ultimately we need to understand if there was anything that was missed, anything that we can do, how we can help, how we can mitigate for something,” Svechin told CNN this morning. Svechin said there are over 20,000 condo units in Sunny Isles Beach. Svechin said condo residents in Sunny Isles Beach should “feel incredibly safe because we are on it,” but added residents “are obviously very scared.”
Miami: City officials sent a letter urging buildings that are over six stories and more than 40 years old to get an inspection from a qualified structural engineer, Stephanie Severino, Director of Communication for Miami told CNN. They are being asking to respond within 45 days with any potential structural concerns.
Boca Raton: Mayor Scott Singer told CNN in an email Sunday that his city is creating “more stringent standards for certifications of buildings” following the Surfside collapse. “Our building staff has been working with other jurisdictions to determine the best practices,” Singer said in the email. “A number of our condos have been working on comprehensive restorations. We can expect more of these efforts and increased steps to ensure the safety and welfare of our residents.”
Read more here.
Nina Le Troadec, a 15-year-old resident of Champlain Towers East, witnessed the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South from her bedroom window.
Le Troadec said she and her family were “scared” that their building could collapse too and stayed in a hotel following the collapse.
She described what she witnessed to CNN’s John Berman:
“I was in my room around 1:30 a.m. and my room is overlooking the Champlain Towers South. And suddenly I heard this huge sound and I go rushing to my window balcony because it’s right there. I open the window and I just see the second part of the building collapsing. The first middle part already collapsed. And then just a cloud of dust and we couldn’t see anything. I ran to my mom who was on the other side of the balcony and made sure she was okay. We were in such shock. We didn’t know what happened. We didn’t know if that was going to happen to our building,” Le Troadec said.
“We just were traumatized. And we woke my sister up who slept through the whole thing. We went downstairs. It was madness there. There were people screaming, crying, all types of emotions there. We saw people from the remaining balconies that were still standing like just stuck there unable to go to the stairs because it’s blocked or there’s no stairs. And it was just really scary. We later then went into a hotel because, you know, we didn’t know if it would happen to our building. We just didn’t know anything. And it was all just really scary,” she continued.
She told Berman that she can’t get the image of the collapse out of her head and that she had a hard time sleeping her first night back in her building, which was built years after Champlain Towers South.
“So much trauma and so much emotions. I just can’t believe it,” she said.
Le Troadec said that she also is a former classmate of Devon Gonzalez, who was pulled out alive from the rubble along with her mother Angela.
“She’s at the hospital with her mom. I’m glad they survived it,” Le Troadec said.
Watch the full interview:
City officials say the cause of the partial building collapse in Surfside, Florida, is still unknown, but engineering reports, researches and residents have shed light on the integrity of the structure as rescuers continue to race to find survivors.
At least nine people are dead, 152 are unaccounted for and 134 are accounted for in the collapse of Champlain Towers South as of Sunday night, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said during a news conference.
Here’s what we know about the investigation so far:
2018 report raises alarm: A 2018 report completed by Morabito Consultants, a structural engineering firm, “detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete,” a statement from the firm said Saturday. The group said it provided an estimate to “make the extensive and necessary repairs” to the condo association. The report didn’t indicate whether the structure was at risk of collapse. Morabito was again retained by the condominium association in June 2020 for the building’s 40-year repair and restoration process, according to the statement.
At the time of the collapse, there were roof repairs taking place, but concrete restoration had not started, the firm said, adding that it “exclusively provides” engineering consulting services and does not provide construction-related services.
“We are deeply troubled by this building collapse and are working closely with the investigating authorities to understand why the structure failed. As we do so, we also continue to pray for all those impacted by this tragic event,” the firm said in the statement.
A researcher says condo showed sings of sinking in 1990s: Shimon Wdowinski, a professor with Florida International University’s Institute of Environment, told CNN he determined in a study last year that the Champlain Towers South condo showed signs of sinking in the 1990s. The condo had a subsidence rate of about two millimeters a year from 1993 to 1999, according to his study. While Wdowinski said that this sinking alone would likely not cause the condo’s collapse, he said it could be a contributing factor. “If one part of the building moves with respect to the other, that could cause some tension and cracks,” he explain
Residents raised concerns over tremors during construction of nearby building: Eliana Salzhauer, one of three town commissioners for Surfside, Florida, told CNN Sunday night that survivors of the collapse she encountered have said they felt shaking during construction on a nearby building in recent years. Salzhauer said some of the survivors told her they were bothered by the shaking of their building that occurred while a high-rise was being constructed next door. They told her there was shaking, cracking and water leaking in the garage, she said.
Local leaders are now reviewing building protocols: The deadly collapse prompted nearby cities and towns to review their building recertification protocols. Less than five miles north of Surfside, the city of Sunny Isles Beach will begin sending teams to inspect buildings Monday after announcing Saturday that they would modify the existing process for 40-year recertifications of buildings, Vice Mayor Larisa Svechin told CNN.
On Friday the city of Miami sent a letter urging buildings that are over six stories and more than 40 years old to get an inspection from a qualified structural engineer, Stephanie Severino, Director of Communication for the City of Miami told CNN. They are being asking to respond within 45 days with any potential structural concerns.
Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer told CNN in an email Sunday that his city is creating “more stringent standards for certifications of buildings” following the Surfside collapse.
Read more about the investigation here.
The structural engineer who inspected Champlain Towers South last year said he saw cracks and deterioration but was not alarmed.
“I saw cracks in the stucco facade. I saw deterioration of the concrete balconies. I saw cracks and deterioration of the garage and plaza level but those are all things that we are accustomed to seeing and that’s why our job exists – to maintain and repair the buildings,” Jason Borden told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
Borden said nothing he saw during his hour-long inspection alarmed him. Borden said what he observed is typical of buildings this age that are on the coast. He also said what he saw is consistent with the nature of reinforcing steel and concrete over time.
Borden says these factors can become a danger when they are not maintained or repaired.
When asked about a more comprehensive 2018 inspection report which found structural damage, cracks, and possible spalling under the pool and parking garage, Borden said the findings were “typical of what we see in buildings of this age and condition.”
“I thought it was a very well put together report,” Borden said. “They had done the full investigation that we were proposing to do. They went through and detailed very thoroughly exactly what was wrong with the building, again, is very typical of what we see in buildings of this age in this condition.”
When asked about recent speculation the collapse may have begun at the bottom, Borden said the most likely culprit in such a scenario would be the failure of a column.
“The most likely or the most common would be the failure of a column. So, the columns are one of the most robust parts of the building,” Borden said. “They are designed to hold up the entire building so something had to have happened to a column.”
Borden said an adjacent slab being compromised or failing can lead to a column collapsing.
When asked about recent reports that a woman reportedly told her husband just before the collapse that she saw a hole where the pool used to be, Boden said that “definitely” could have been a factor in the sudden and catastrophic collapse.
Borden said if the pool deck or structural slab near the building failed or was compromised, “it could have contributed to the end result.”
Borden expressed confidence in the integrity of Champlain Towers North and East.
“You know they are maintaining their buildings. Personally, I am confident in the stability of those buildings because I’ve been closely involved with Champlain Towers East,” Borden said.
Watch the full interview:
Florida State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said the search and rescue effort underway in Surfside at the Champlain Towers South collapse site is the largest that state has ever had that isn’t a hurricane.
“It’s the largest effort we’ve ever had in the history of the state of Florida that not’s been a hurricane,” Patronis told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
Patronis said the rescue effort has been helped in recent days by a newly constructed trench and first responders’ ability to remove giant pieces of smoldering concrete.
Patronis said one of the pieces they were able to pull out weighed about 12,000 pounds and it was scorched from a fire burning beneath it.
“As they have been able to remove some of these, they have been able to get some of the fuel out of the system and with the fuel going away, the fires are minimized and the work is more efficient,” Patronis said.
The state’s fire marshal said the idea that even one person could be pulled alive from the rubble is what motivates first responders to continue the grueling recovery effort.
Asked about potential causes of the catastrophic collapse, Patronis said he is focused on the recovery efforted but said “it will be a Greek tragedy if they find that this all could have been avoided.”
Rescue teams from other countries are traveling to Florida to assist locals with rescue operations as the scene continues to be a challenging situation.
A team of ten rescuers from Israel arrived Sunday morning, Kevin Guthrie, the director for the Florida Division of Emergency Management, told CNN.
They went to the collapse scene and “were on the pile almost all day,” Guthrie said
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said a rescue team from Mexico is expected to arrive Monday.
Crews have been working non-stop since the collapse early Thursday morning, with rescuers switching out over different shifts as weather and fires complicated their efforts.
Smoke from a deep burning fire made the first days of the rescue operation difficult, as visibility was poor and temperatures were high, according to Burkett.
Alan Cominsky, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief, called conditions at the site “horrific.”
“It’s tough to describe. We don’t have the voids that we are hoping for,” Cominsky said Sunday. “We are still looking. So that’s what I mean by horrific. It’s just a difficult, difficult situation.”
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said rescuers are using a grid search approach on the pile and continue to utilize sonar, cameras and K9 resources.
The issue isn’t resources but luck, according to Burkett.
“We have a full complement of very experienced search and rescue people. We have waves of them going over that rubble pile right now,” Burkett told CNN Sunday.
“We got everything we need and more, we just need some luck and we had it,” he explained.
Read more about the rescue efforts here.
Vice Mayor of Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, Larisa Svechin expressed concerns over the older condominium buildings in her city following the deadly building collapse in Surfside.
“First of all, our concerns, obviously, are for the safety of our residents and, so, we are immediately putting in plans to check 59 buildings that are either at the 40-year mark or have just went through the 40-year recertification because ultimately, we need to understand if there was anything that was missed, anything that we can do, how we can help and how we can mitigate for something,” Svechin told CNN’s John Berman.
“Starting this morning, actually, we are taking out teams going out through our city, which is a pretty small city but has over 20,000 condo units and start checking those buildings. The 20 going through recertification right now,” she said.
Sunny Isles Beach city is less than five miles north of Surfside.
At least nine people are confirmed dead following the collapse, with eight of them identified by authorities as of Sunday night.
The first victim was identified Friday as Stacie Fang, 54. She is the mother of Jonah Handler, the boy who was pulled from the rubble alive, her family said in a statement.
“There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie,” the family said. “The many heartfelt words of encouragement and love have served as a much needed source of strength during this devastating time.”
Officials identified three more victims on Saturday as Antonio Lozano, 83, Gladys Lozano, 79, and Manuel LaFont, 54.
On Sunday, they released the identities of four more victims: Leon Oliwkowicz, 80; Luis Bermudez, 26; Anna Ortiz, 46; and Christina Beatriz Elvira, 74. One victim has not yet been identified by authorities.
“The process of identifying these victims is very difficult,” Levine Cava said Saturday. “We’re going to be relying on DNA testing. And that is why we’ve already been gathering DNA samples from the family members, so they have all participated and provided DNA to assist us in the investigation.”
“This allows us to do rapid DNA testing on site for bodies,” she explained.
But the painstaking wait is made even more unbearable for some as burials, traditionally done within days after death in the Jewish tradition, are unable to happen until the dead are recovered. The Greater Miami Jewish Federation offered to help community members with arranging funeral and burial services.
This morning, Venezuelan Ambassador to the United States Carlos Vecchio said on Twitter that two of the victims are Venezuelan citizens.