Florida Building Collapse: Engineer Warned of Major Structural Damage in 2018

Emergency crews continue search and rescue operations for survivors of a partially collapsed residential building near Miami Beach, June 2021. (Octavio Jones/Reuters)

A consultant warned in 2018 of structural problems at a Florida condominium complex that partially collapsed on Thursday night, leaving at least four dead and 159 missing.

City officials in Surfside, Fla., released the 2018 report on damage to the Champlain Towers South complex on Friday evening. The report’s author, engineer Frank Morabito, wrote of “major structural damage” to the concrete slab beneath the pool deck as well as “abundant” cracking in the columns, beams, and walls of the parking garage beneath the complex.

“Though some of this damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion,” Morabito wrote at the time. Morabito did not specifically warn that the building was in danger of impending collapse.

Plans to repair the building, shaped in part by Morabito’s report, were set to get underway soon, according to Kenneth S. Direktor, a lawyer for the association that manages the building.

“They were just about to get started on it,” Direktor told the New York Times.

The precise cause of the collapse is still unknown. Florida governor Ron DeSantis called for a “timely” explanation of the collapse in comments to reporters on Friday.

“We have a lot of families here who’ve lost loved ones when this building collapsed. They have a right to know,” DeSantis said. “There are a lot of other people … who want to know, how can a building collapse like that?”

Rescuers were still searching the rubble for survivors as of Saturday morning, however no new survivors were found on Friday.

“We have not found anyone else in today’s search,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters at a press conference. “But through the night we will continue, and God willing, there will be some good news later tonight or in the morning.”

Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said the rescue effort had to be “methodical” in order to find potential survivors.

“This is a very strategic, methodical process,” Cominsky said. “We can’t just move [all the rubble] at one time. It has to be very slow processes where we’re digging through, searching, shoring up certain areas.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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