A Shock in the Small Seaside Town of Surfside, Florida
The History of Champlain Towers
8777 Collins Avenue Surfside, Florida was constructed in 1981 and stands 13 stories high with approximately 135 units. The condominium is made up of three areas, Champlain Towers North Condo, Champlain Towers East Condo, and Champlain Towers South Condo, the largest one, which was the scene of the fatal collapse. Units could be seen in ranges from one-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot, two-bedroom apartments to 2,200-square-foot. In 1979 developers paid a mere $200,000 to begin construction of the future development, water and sewer system issues were at the forefront before construction even began. The majority of the $200,000 for the development, in the beginning, went to the early found problems. After the opening of the condominiums, many international buyers began buying up units to pursue their American dreams, and to date many passed down their properties to loved ones. Forming a large tight-knit Jewish and South American community among the residents. Kenneth Direktor an attorney who represented the association for the last five years. described the community as “active and engaged… There are working people, families with kids, people of retirement age.”
What Happened on June 24th?
Nearby residents were jolted awake around 1:30 am on June 24, 2021, to what sounded like thunder to many. Once peeking out their high-rise windows individuals saw a large ball of dust fill the dark morning sky. Within seconds 55 of the 136-unit apartment building, Champlain Towers South Condo, had collapsed. As of now, 16 deaths have been confirmed while hundreds are still missing. Families and friends stand by in anticipation for miracles to occur all around. Firefighters and emergency crews from around the nation are working tirelessly around the clock to bring what they hope are positive results as well as answers to the community.
Why Did Champlain Towers South Condo Collapse?
This is the question on everyone’s mind, and it seems as though the answer still is unknown, but many are looking into the structure as a whole and the condition it was in. “Study from a researcher at Florida International University found that the area around the building, constructed on reclaimed wetlands, had been sinking at a rate of two millimeters per year for the last three decades.” Morabito Consultants, a structural engineering firm completed a report in 2018 and many red flags were brought to light stating, significant cracks in the concrete located in the walls and beams of the parking garage. Concerns among residents were heightened during the construction of a nearby building. Eliana Salzhauer, town commissioner for Surfside, Florida 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…. there was shaking, cracking and water leaking in the garage.” With the aftermath of Champlain Towers, the city of Miami has encouraged buildings that are over six stories and more than 40 years old to receive inspections within the next 45 days.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
Currently, the State of Florida does not require inspectors to use advanced technology such as — sonar, radar, hand-held x-rays, salinity tests, and magnetic imaging to go beneath the surface of buildings to assess the condition. After the horrific accident that occurred many are coming out with a persisting change in Florida’s dated building inspection laws. “Architect Kobi Karp said that just as Hurricane Andrew led South Florida, and eventually the state, to update its building codes, Champlain Towers can serve as the impetus for safer buildings.” As of now, Florida inspectors are told to only investigate what can be seen with the naked eye. While places like New York, California, and Chicago, have been using advanced technology for years to perform inspections. Coastal towns in Florida have an even more significant disadvantage with the rising of water that is leading to deterioration beneath the surface of many structures, including Champlain Towers. Miami-Dade Mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, on Tuesday, “announced she was moving forward with a plan to meet with subject matter experts “from engineering to legal to construction to development to soil to geology.’’ All and all a great tragedy occurred, while no cause has come to light hopefully within the next few weeks the unknowns will be answered, so no similar tragedy occurs in the future.