Nothing could have prevented the Surfside tragedy from happening. Clearly, for years the building association was warned about problems with the structure of the Champlain Towers, and nothing was done to solve the issues that haunted this condominium in Miami Beach. In 2018, an inspection performed by the engineering firm Morabito Consultants (Consulting, 2018) showed a "major error" in the construction of the pool deck, whereby the waterproofing layer was not sloped, and that the building had structural damage that needed to be addressed urgently. Back in 2020 an engineering firm said that the building had been sinking at a rate of 2 millimeters a year since the 1990’s. (Wdowinski, 2020) Apparently, according to Wdowinski, not many people paid attention to his findings back in 2020 and when he saw the towers collapse, he clearly remembered his research and knew what had happened.
What has many in the community startled, is the fact that these towers had to collapse for the truth to come out. No one understands why these serious structural damages were kept under wraps, and a recent review had deemed the towers in perfect condition. At least, the information that has been released shows that the Champlain towers had been given a clean bill of health, when it was clear that the towers were about to collapse. The 2018 and 2020 reports did not say the building would collapse, but if an engineering firms says there are urgent repairs to be made, and no one addresses these issues, then we are in front of an apparent negligent behavior causing the deaths of hundreds of people.
We have yet to discover what really happened, but we can clearly see how the building collapsed, and, as a result, many have lost their relatives. It is a shame, but I regret that these tragedies must occur for Miami-Dade County officials to realize that this is not the only building that has these structural damages without being addressed. Therefore, we have seen in the recent days many county and city officials doing their jobs and cracking down on buildings with urgent needs of repairs. A bit too late, considering the tragedy of the Champlain towers. Now, many realize the level of possible negligence and incompetence of certain city and county officials who certify buildings that do not meet the safety standards.
In 2015, a lawsuit alleged building management failed to maintain an outside wall, resulting in water damage along with cracks in the structure of the building. The owner who filed that suit had previously sued over the same issue, according to a court record. The management company paid for damages in the earlier case, according to records. Despite all these issues, reports and lawsuits, the building association and administrators were incapable of resolving the issues before it was too late. On June 24th it became clear that the lack of action created the perfect environment for the building to collapse. Too late for the countless victims. Although now we must focus on the rescue efforts, the community must be vigilant that all facts come to light, and those responsible for this tragedy are held accountable no matter who they are and their role in the tragedy.
Consulting, M. (2018). Morabito consulting.
Wdowinski, S. (2020). Department of Earth and Environment.
Cristhian Mancera Mejia