Story at a glance

  • An engineering report highlighted cracks in the concrete of balconies in the Champlain Towers South of the Surfside condominium complex.
  • The report was given in 2018, three years prior to the recent fatal collapse of the building.
  • Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett says the report may not have been read despite email receipts.

The mystery surrounding the Surfside condominium building collapse last week deepens as newly surfaced documentation reports “major structural damage.”

E-mails published on the Surfside town website and Surfside board meeting minutes from November 2018 first obtained by NPR both reveal that engineers were aware of some faults within the building’s features for several years.

Engineering consultants reviewed the Champlain Towers South — the portion of the condo which collapsed — in the fall of 2018. The emails sent between the engineering firm, Surfside local government officials and condo board members noted large cracks along concrete balcony surfaces as a result of water damage.

Engineers also mentioned “abundant cracking” in the building’s concrete column, beams and walls in the report, which was compiled by Morabito Consultants. Experts called for further investigation and eventual reparations to prevent future water damage.


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“Though some of this damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion,” the report reads. 

Despite the warnings and calls for investigations and repairs, the meeting minutes note that former officials, namely Ross Prieto, a former inspector for the condo’s structural integrity, reportedly assured residents that the building was “in very good shape.”

Other emails released by the Surfside town government reveal tension between advocates for residents of the condominium and Surfside town officials over a lack of action in fixing other instances of damage and keeping the property clean.

Current Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava both said authorities were unaware of the report’s critiques and content. Burkett told reporters that the report was potentially not read at the time, and Levin Cava added that officials “knew nothing” of the report, reported the Miami Herald

The collapse of the 12-story tower has left nine confirmed residents dead and more than 150 others still missing. 


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Published on Jun 28, 2021