I’m sure that by now you’ve all heard about the collapse of Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium building in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida in the wee hours of Thursday morning. You probably already know that there are 5 confirmed dead, 11 injured, and 159 people missing as of this writing. This story is heartbreaking enough in and of itself, but a couple of things I read earlier this evening … add to the heartbreak and also the rage.
127 people escaped or were evacuated, some from the other side of the building, some from the collapsed side. They did not have time to pack belongings and most have now lost everything they own. Some are staying in nearby motels. Friends and family of the missing have flown in to await word of their loved ones and they, too, are staying at nearby motels. Those motels, two in particular, the Residence Inn and the Four Seasons, saw an opportunity and they seized it … by raising their rates to between $800 and $1,500 per night! Is this not the most unconscionable thing imaginable? If anything, I would have expected them to offer the rooms for free, or at the very least at a greatly reduced rate! Needless to say, the managers of those motels will NEVER find themselves on Filosofa’s ‘good people’ posts!
The other thing is the report that three years ago, in October 2018, a consultant, Frank Morabito, found alarming evidence of “major structural damage” to the concrete slab below the pool deck and “abundant” cracking and crumbling of the columns, beams and walls of the parking garage under the 13-story building. As a result, it is reported that a multi-million-dollar repair project was set to “get underway soon” … nearly three years later!
From the New York Times …
In a statement on Saturday, Mr. Morabito’s firm, Morabito Consulting, said it provided the condo association with both an assessment of the “extensive and necessary repairs” needed and an estimate of how much they would cost.
“Among other things, our report detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete, which required repairs to ensure the safety of the residents and the public,” the statement said.
Emails show that the secretary of the condo association forwarded the report to an official in the town’s building department on Nov. 13, 2018. The town did not disclose any further correspondence related to the report.
In all likelihood the 159 missing people are dead somewhere under the massive rubble pile. Meaning that a death toll of 164 people could have been prevented if the condo association had done their job, had taken Morabito’s report seriously and put lives ahead of profit. I think we will be seeing hundreds of wrongful death lawsuits, the first already having been filed yesterday. I hope every plaintiff wins his case! Even those who got out safely have lost all their worldly possessions and have grounds for a lawsuit. Ignoring the 2018 report was by any measure grossly unconscionable.
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade announced a 30-day audit of all buildings 40 years and older under the county’s jurisdiction, and she urged cities to do the same for buildings within their borders. As my grandpa would have said, “Talk about closing the barn door after the cows got out!”