Report Showed Major Damage Prior to Florida High-Rise Collapse

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Robison Wells
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As crews still search through the rubble of the Surfside, Florida condo that collapsed last week, new reports indicate that the building needed construction repairs as early as 2018.

The city released an engineering report created by Morabito Consultants in 2018. The report didn’t include a warning of imminent danger. Inspectors can’t make a clear connection between the damage noted in the report and the collapse. But the report might contain valuable information to investigators.

Morabito Consultants’ report cited “major structural damage” to a concrete slab on which the ground-floor pool deck rested. The same engineering report noted “abundant cracking and spalling” in the concrete columns, beams, and walls of the parking garage and a need for extensive and costly repairs in the Champlain Towers South.

Waterproofing under the pool deck also made the damage report. “The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially,” the report said.

The report noted repairs of cracks in the parking garage with epoxy but with shoddy workmanship. “Where the slab had been epoxy-injected, new cracks were radiating from the originally repaired cracks.”

Gregg Schlesinger, an attorney specializing in construction defects, said that building managers should have quickly addressed these problems. He said in an interview with ABC News, “The building speaks to us. It is telling us we have a serious problem. They (building managers) kicked the can down the road. The maintenance was improper. These were all red flags that needed to be addressed. They weren’t.”

Morabito said that Champlain Towers South had hired them again in 2020 to begin a 40-year recertification process and that roof repairs were underway at the time of the collapse. However, no concrete restoration had begun.

Surfside’s mayor, Charles Burkett, told ABC News, “It should have been a very straightforward thing. Buildings in America do not just fall down like this. There is a reason. We need to find out what that reason is.”

In the wake of the Champlain Towers building collapse, more than 100 people remain missing at the time of writing. Federal and state investigations are underway to determine the cause, but the process may take a long time.

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