The people who live in thousands of condominiums along the 2,172 kilometers of coastline of the Florida they have lived in fear since the end of June.
They wonder if their buildings are in danger of collapsing like the one that collapsed in Surfside, leaving 90 dead and dozens missing so far. And state and municipal authorities are looking at what they can do to make sure that doesn’t happen.
While building collapses are rare, municipalities study whether to modify inspections and if a new certification is necessary when the construction of a building is completed, something that is now not a requirement.
“We inspect bridges every two years, but tall buildings along the coast are inspected when they are being built and never again,” explained Volusia County President Jeff Brower, who said he received photos from residents showing damage to their buildings.
“This is a wake-up call. Some of the photos I saw of our structures are scary,” he added.
Brower contacted the governor’s office to discuss the matter, but believes that the most practical thing will be for municipal authorities to deal with the matter.
One idea is to re-inspect new buildings after ten years and, depending on what is found, again at age ten.
The Champlain Tower, in Surfside, Miami Beach, partially collapsed on June 24. Photo: AFP
Miami-Dade County, where the 40-year-old Champlain Towers South building was located, which partially collapsed almost a month ago, stipulates that inspectors must certify that it is safe 4 decades after construction and every ten years thereafter.
“There is no question that we have to inspect the infrastructure of these buildings,” Brower said. “It’s not that they collapse all over the place, but we don’t want to have one more tragedy like Surfside. ”
Rethink the rules
The collapse prompted the county, as well as the cities and towns that comprise it, to reconsider current recertification regulations.
One municipality, North Miami Beach, evacuated the Crestview Towers, built nearly 50 years ago, and said it will not allow its residents to return until several repairs are completed.
The county further announced that Miami-Dade Courthouse Building Undergoing Repairs after some worrisome signs were found during an inspection motivated by the collapse of a neighboring condominium.
Erosion and rust.
Skyscrapers on the Florida coast are battered by storms, salt water, and wind from the sea, which can wear away concrete and rust metal parts.
There is not a kilometer of the Florida coast that has not been affected in one way or another by the hurricanes and tropical storms of the last 40 years. Some sectors were killed more than once.
While building codes improved starting in the 1980s, the quality of the works was questionable prior to that time, according to Brett Turner, a Southwest Florida project manager who has been in the construction industry for 45 years.
“Until the late 1980s, there were practically no inspections. Our codes were horrible. So any house or building built before 1986 is suspect,” Turner said.
Search work under the rubble continues on the building that collapsed in Miami. Photo: AP
“It was like the Wild West. You did what you wanted to get the most out of it,” he added.
Turner, who has repaired older buildings in the past, said he is aware of the damage to Florida buildings.
“I am surprised that (the one in Surfside) is the first to collapse,” he said. “I am not surprised that it happened. What surprises me is that it is the first,” he remarked.
In Boca Raton, authorities are scrambling to create a new recertification process for old buildings, according to Council Member Andy Thomson.
“We have many tall buildings on the beach. The main concern is possible corrosion from salt water,” he said.
Steven Rogers lives in the Chalfonte condos of Boca Raton, in Palm Beach County, where buildings are not required to be recertified.
But Rogers, who is president of the condo association, said they are not going to sit idly by.
The association hired engineers two years ago to inspect the two 22-story towers, built in the late 1970s over the Atlantic.
Rogers said he called the engineers back after the Surfside collapse and told them he wanted a stricter inspection policy than Miami-Dade. The association plans to make repairs every year.
“You have to do the inspections that you consider necessary, not those that the municipality or the state tell you,” said Rogers.
The new building codes that are adopted in Florida could depend on what is in the Surfside building that collapsed.
2 “You have to see why this happened,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a news conference. “Was it because of something unique to the building or something that can happen with the buildings of its time?” The owners and inhabitants are wondering the same thing.