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Surfside Condo Collapse – What Happened?

In Florida, on June 24, 2020, the Champlain Towers South condominium collapsed, leaving 98 people dead. The first reports of a problem came from 911 calls made by residents of the building who noticed that portions of the ground-level deck were collapsing into the parking garage below. A witness captured a video of water and debris pouring down onto the parking ramp moments before the tower fell.

Why Did This Happen?

Some people believe the collapse to be the result of a conspiracy to deliberately pay off building inspectors so that management would not have to pay the cost of updating the structure. Others believe it was merely an accident.

According to The New York Times, a 2018 memo revealed that the piles and pile caps, which acted as supports deep underneath the garage at the bottom of the building, were weakening due to water damage from storm surges. In addition, an engineering report written in the same year found “abundant cracking and crumbling” of the support beams and walls in an underground garage. Structural engineers stated that those support beams were essential to the stability of the building.

Furthermore, large planters on the ground-level deck had waterproofing issues, which contributed to the structural water damage of the concrete below them. Weak beams, overstressed floors, and a lack of reinforcements added to the pressure that resulted in the building’s collapse.

What Happens Now?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology announced that it will conduct a five-pronged investigation into the collapse of the tower, led by Cuban-born engineer Judith Mitrani-Reiser.

Hopefully, a tragedy like this never occurs again. For now, residents of other condominiums in the area have been evacuated while investigations into the safety of buildings in the surrounding areas continue. Many condominiums all over Florida are expediting their inspections and updating their buildings as quickly as possible in an attempt to remain safe and free of liability. For more information on local liability laws, reach out to the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd.

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