The president of the Champlain South Towers condominium association penned a letter to residents in April 2021, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, warning that the building was “deteriorating” and that residents should approve a $15 million assessment to fund major repairs.
Rescuers are still sifting through the rubble of the Champlain South Towers, which partially collapsed in the early morning hours of last Thursday. At least 11 people are dead and 150 are still missing, with time largely running out to locate survivors in the “pancaked” remains on the building.
On Monday, experts, speaking to the New York Times, suggested that the building collapsed because of a fatal structural issue, possibly originating somewhere near the foundation of the building. An eerie call from a model who lived in the towers, placed to her husband just shortly before the collapse, seemed to indicate that the pool had disappeared into a sinkhole.
“A woman missing in the deadly Florida condo building collapse called her husband as the tragedy unfolded — and said she saw a sinkhole where the pool used to be before the line went dead,” Fox News reported. “The model, actress, and Pilates instructor woke her husband in Washington, D.C., and frantically told him that their building was shaking before making the startling comments about a sinkhole.”
The Miami Herald reported that, just two days before the collapse, a pool contractor had cleared the pool deck “which looked clean and well maintained” but warned of visible deterioration and standing water in the building’s basement parking deck: “’There was standing water all over the parking garage,’ the contractor, who asked not to be named, told the Miami Herald. He noted cracking concrete and severely corroded rebar under the pool.”
It now appears that the building’s condominium board president warned of similar issues in April, telling residents in a letter that, concrete damage, already evident, could “multiply exponentially over the years, and indeed the observable damage such as in the garage has gotten significantly worse over the years.”
The board president, Fox News added, ‘noted that in fall 2018, engineering firm Morabito Consultants was hired to inspect the building, reports said. The engineering report pointed out flaws of the building ahead of work that would be needed for the building to meet 40-year recertification in 2021, documents showed.”
“The report found that the pool deck’s waterproofing had failed and was not sloped to drain water. It also pointed to ‘abundant cracking’ in concrete columns and beams,” the outlet continued.
“It is impossible to know the extent of the damage to the underlying rebar until the concrete is opened up. Oftentimes the damage is more extensive than can be determined by inspection of the surface,” the condominium board president wrote.
“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 added in the letter, asking residents to commit to an assessment to pay for the damage. “The concrete deterioration is accelerating. The roof situation got much worse, so extensive roof repairs had to be incorporated.”
Officials say the operation at Champlain South Towers is focusing on finding survivors and locating the missing, as well as on preserving evidence that could be used in future investigations. The collapse, officials told the WSJ, “potentially reflects the failure of multiple systems within the building all at once,” and investigators from several different state and federal agencies will likely be involved in sleuthing out precisely what happened.