Storms and Rubble: Inside the Miami Building Collapse

On+June+24th%2C+2021%2C+the+eastern+side+of+the+Champlain+Towers+South+condo+in+Miami-Dade+County%2C+FL+collapsed.+As+of+Independence+Day%2C+there+have+been+27+known+casualties+and+115+people+still+missing.

Amy Beth Bennett/AP

On June 24th, 2021, the eastern side of the Champlain Towers South condo in Miami-Dade County, FL collapsed. As of Independence Day, there have been 27 known casualties and 115 people still missing.

The Cause

After further inspection, signs of potential collapse began to show early on. This became most apparent in 2018 when engineer Frank Moribato found a “major error” in the building’s structure. He described that the waterproofing did not drain properly, leading the water to evaporate and damage surrounding concrete. Although some in Surfside raised concerns in the following years,  generally positive reports and questions of the time and cost required brushed them aside. Ultimately, the weakened foundations and delayed repair would result in the recent tragedy.

A Storm Brews

After the collapse, the city discussed demolishing the rest of the building. However, with Tropical Storm Elsa moving towards South Florida, rescue efforts increased and the state decided on demolition in anticipation of the storm early that week after its movement in the Caribbean.

Considering Elsa’s heavy rain, strong humidity, and strong winds, it poses a potential hazard to recovery efforts.

Demolition and Aftermath

On July 4, 2021, the demolition team detonated explosives to take down the remaining building. Because of this, rubble makes the area more accessible for the search and rescue of the missing tenants.

As the nation celebrates its independence with whistling fireworks, the people of Surfside and the greater Miami area pay tribute to those lost and the families affected. By quiet candlelight, a city mourns in solidarity with the words “Surfside Strong.”

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