More Information Rolls in About Construction Red Flags At Surfside Disaster

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Robison Wells
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A 2018 report noted significant flaws in the South Champlain Tower in Surfside, Florida, which collapsed nearly ten days ago. NPR exposed a series of presentations given to the residents in both the North and South Champlain Towers in the fall and winter of 2020. The major takeaway was, "we have to do all this right now."

One presentation from October of that year reads: "There is no waterproofing layer over the garage in the driveway or any area except the pool deck and planters; this has exposed the garage to water intrusion for 40 years. Where there is waterproofing, it has failed. As a result, water has gotten underneath and caused additional damage to the concrete."

"The drainage problems must be corrected so that water drains off to the sides (code issue)," cited another December 2020 presentation, the first half of the sentence underlined for emphasis.

NPR and other organizations, including CNN and FoxNews, could not identify who had given the presentation. Still, viewers recollect that the report listed a member of the building's management as a contact for further questions.

In a different report from 2020, the engineer, Frank Morabito, said that failed waterproofing below the pool deck was "causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas." He warned that failure to replace it shortly would cause the "concrete deterioration to expand exponentially."

This is a contradiction to a 2018 building inspection. According to the meeting minutes obtained by CNN, Ross Prieto told residents that the building was "in very good shape."

As recent as April of this year, the president of the condo board, Jean Wodnicki, warned: "the concrete deterioration is accelerating" and "the observable damage such as in the garage has gotten significantly worse since the initial [2018] inspection."

Attendees argued over the cost of repairs; initial estimates put the fix at $9 million but then jumped to $15 million.

Crews demolished the North Condo Tower to ease search and recovery efforts and to facilitate continuing investigations. It will likely be a long time before the true answer is determined, but it is clear that there were warning signs.

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