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The Collapse at Surfside, Florida

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This will be an ongoing story for weeks and months. The sudden collapse of the high rise condominium recalls the 9\11 collapse of the Twin Towers on a smaller scale but no more deadly. While rescue efforts continue for the 160 missing in the rubble, time is working against them as hope fades into death of loved ones who were sleeping when the event happened.

Yet, even though the smoke is still rising and rescue and recovery operations are 24\7, experts have been discussing the cause of the collapse of this 40-year old building that was undergoing long due repairs.

In an engineering report on the building in 2018, the report cited several areas of the foundation that had signs of structural weakening due to erosion and rust. The waterproofing and design of the base foundation was found to allow water to gather and sit in critical areas instead of being drained off. The report cited that to fix this condition would be very expensive for the owners and would cause a major disruption with those living in the high rise. The report also cited that the building had been built upon sand and limestone that over the past 40 years had shifted up to an inch or more, with one part of the foundation and pillars that support the structure actually sunk in gradual amounts. Further weakening the foundation was the fact that salt water and rain water had intruded several times over the years and with inadequate draining, corroded some of the structural pillars from within. When rebar is used to reinforce concrete, should they rust, the pillar is greatly weakened from inside until it cannot support.

Considering all these facts cited in the 2018 report, the State and owners of the building did little to repair and had recently began repairs on the roof. Why was there such a negligent time delay? Cost?

If the facts above continue to be supported in the future, you know there will be a massive Class Action lawsuit from the families lost against the owners of the building, it might even be considered criminal negligence on the part of the owners since they knew what was in the report warning them of the many deficiencies in bringing the structure to Building Code in 2021. Could the State also be negligent in some way for NOT inspecting this structure much more frequently and during the last inspection, were the same issues cited in the private engineering report made for the owners, but the State failed to force the owners to make the repairs?

I think so.

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