State Watch

Damage to Surfside building’s concrete was accelerating in April

The president of the association that represents the collapsed Florida condominium building said the damage to the building’s basement garage had “gotten significantly worse” and the concrete damage was “accelerating,” according to a letter written last April, USA Today reported.

In the letter obtained by USA Today, Champlain Towers South Condominium Association President Jean Wodnicki acknowledged that the tens of millions of dollars of needed repairs had become a source of frustration for the building’s residents.

On Monday, the death count rose to 11 people. Another 150 people remain missing.

“We have discussed, debated, and argued for years now, and will continue to do so for years to come as different items come into play,” Wodnicki, who survived the collapse last week, wrote in a letter dated April 9.

Wodnicki noted in her letter that conditions had worsened from when the association had hired an engineering firm to inspect the building in 2018. The engineers had found a “major error” in the building’s design, including crumbling concrete columns in the garage area. The firm predicted that failure to address these errors would “cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially.”

Frank Morabito, the engineering consultant who inspected the building in 2018, said he had found “abundant cracking and spalling of varying degrees” in the structures of the ground-floor parking garage.

Wodnicki wrote in the letter that “indeed the observable damage such as in the garage has gotten significantly worse.”

“When you can visually see the concrete spalling (cracking), that means that the rebar holding it together is rusting and deteriorating beneath the surface,” she wrote.

Wodnicki stated that much of the ground level would need to be pulled up due to how many of the repairs would need to be done underground.

“When performing any concrete restoration work, it is impossible to know the extent of the damage to the underlying rebar until the concrete is opened up,” she wrote. “Oftentimes the damage is more extensive than can be determined by inspection of the surface.”

“Your Board of Directors is working very hard to bring this project to fruition,” she added. “We have covered so much ground already to get the project rolling. … We have discussed, debated, and argued for years now, and will continue to do so for years to come as different items come into play.” 

Last week, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of one of the residents of the building seeking millions of dollars in damages from the condominium association, claiming the collapse occurred “due to the inadequate protection of both the safety of residents and visitors to the building.”

Tags concrete Construction Florida Surfside building collapse

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