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Surfside, Florida – On Thursday June 24th in the early morning, a 12 story residential condo building partially collapsed in Florida’s Miami-Dade county. The Champlain Towers South condominium laid established in Surfside, Florida approximately 6 miles from Miami Beach.
At around 1:30 a.m., 55 out of the 136 units of the beachside complex crumbled. A massive search and rescue operation was immediately initiated as the crew rummaged through wreckage and debris in hopes of locating survivors. Sunday a team of Israeli specialists arrived on site to assist local authorities with specialty equipment and training as the chance for survivors turns dim. It is unclear whether the team was selected, but, the building is said to of been home for a number of people of the Jewish community. As of now foul play has not been ruled out but the investigation is on-going and will take time.
Officials revealed during a Sunday news conference that at least nine people have officially been pronounced dead with around 152 individuals still missing as heavy equipment from the demolition firm Alpha Wrecking, of Pompano Beach – Florida, on site begins to remove rubble and sift through debris
The engineering consultant company, Morabito Consultants, Inc., have revealed that unit owners have previously complained of flooding during recent hurricane-like weather. Infiltration of water has been determined to have seeped through balcony sliding glass doors and windows which lacked proper flashing at the sills. Decaying exterior perimeter sealant between window and door frames as well as among masonry and concrete walls have been identified. Sliding doors have been improperly installed among several units. Full Report Below:
Most windows in the complex seem to have reached their functional lifespan. It is recommended that the window frame glazing and perimeter sealant should be removed and replaced to prevent future water infiltration during hurricane weather. Cracks in the stucco exterior facade also need to be routed and repointed to prevent future water permeation.
Further investigation revealed an absence of window washing and suspension hooks which should have been installed face-mounted to the underside of the top-level balconies. Failure of hosting such hooks is a violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Rules and Regulations 29 CFR Part 1910 and the ANSI/IWCA I-14.1-2001 “Window Cleaning Safety Standard”.
MC disclosed that a majority of the balconies within the complex were furnished with either tile or some floor covering, making it essentially impossible to know the condition of the topside of the balcony slabs. Unit 1008 noted balcony tile damaged. Cracked tile normally indicates structural damage which must be repaired in accordance to the requirements set in place by the International Concrete Repair Institute.
Concrete slab edge of balconies additionally appeared to experience concrete spalling and cracking. MC categorizes such impairment as a source of water infiltration leading to sub-surface deterioration of the soffits under railings. MC has requested further investigation regarding the slab edges.
Half of the balconies reviewed by MC have unveiled deterioration under the finished painted surface. The concrete was sounded with a golf club to check for solidarity. Occasionally, the paint finish created a bubble filled with retained water while other balconies had paint soffit peeled off leaving the concrete exposed. The damage can only be repaired by completely removing the balcony tiles and repairing the damaged concrete surfaces at both the top and bottom of the slab while installing a pedestrian waterproofing membrane on all top-side balcony surfaces for protection.
Entrance drive soffits and light fixtures under the second floor were seen to have disintegrated black plywood. MC speculates that mold may exist above the soffit areas and that the support framing is on its way towards complete deterioration.
Abundant cracking and spalling in concrete columns, beams, and walls was discovered in the parking garage levels. Although noted as minor at the time, repairs will be needed in a timely manner. MC suspects that the previously installed epoxy injection repairs served to be inadequate in fixing existing damages. Some signs are now pointing to a possible failure starting here but a full investigation is still underway. Concrete does have an enemy and that is salt water. Salt water and the fact of the proximity to the ocean and heat reaps havoc on structural components including steel reinforcements especially with the admixtures of the day when the building was constructed some 40 years ago.
MC has stated that the roof of the building at the 14th level is in satisfactory condition. Maintenance personnel reported to MC claiming that no present roof leaks are known. Minor cracking of the parapet walls and some spalling at the stair tower walls was noted. All cracks will be routed and sealed with a urethane sealant and all spalls will be repaired in accordance with the ICRI recommendations. Mechanical equipment supporting steel will be cleaned and coated with a zinc paint.
Slight cracking was detected in the knee walls around the pool deck. Handrails and rail post connections at the pool deck knee walls are not in need of repair at this time. Pavers on the pool deck are showing moderate damage from exposure to the elements however they do not pose a hazard to the building residents and do not need to be refurbished as of now. The joint sealant however, needs immediate replacing alongside the need of waterproofing the pool deck and entrance drive. The failed waterproofing has created huge structural damage to the concrete structural slab.
MC’s approach for repair includes removing all pavers, decorative concrete paving, setting beds, concrete topping slab, and waterproofing concrete structures. MC also wants to repair concrete structures, pour a sloped bonded concrete overlay that will be sloped to drain, install new waterproofing membrane as well as protection boards and drainage panels in addition to place new pavers and decorative concrete slabs over a sand setting bed. Stainless steel dual level drains will also be installed at all current drain locations.
The 2018 Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapse along with the Champlain Towers South condominiums fall are resulting in higher scrutiny on new and existing special testing. The pedestrian bridge resulted in six deaths, ten injuries, and eight crushed vehicles. An engineering design flaw identified by the NTSB which led to the collapse was the miscalculation of the available interface shear capacity which resulted in designing an under-reinforced connection. Force at the point of error was significant enough to cause concrete cracking that eventually led to a complete blowout of the concrete.
More stringent building codes and enforcement’s are expected to appear now. Building operators and associations are anticipated to soon create strict updates and maintenance reports in which detailed life cycle analysis will be heavily emphasized. Although it appears that the building was maintained negligently right now the overall root cause has not been identified completely yet and could be the structural integrity or possibly even flood, drainage, or erosion type sink holes from years of storm and erosion located in the subsoils.