A bombshell report released last fall revealed just how extensive concrete deterioration and corrosion of steel reinforcements had been found at the now collapsed Champlain Towers South.
Things had become so bad that repair work was put on hold over fears that performing it might even endanger the stability of surrounding buildings.
The ominous assessment was carried out by the firm Concrete Protection and Restoration and Morabito Consultants who both found several issues including a potentially deep deterioration of concrete near the pool area.
But the repair and restoration work 'could not be performed' because the pool 'was to remain in service for the duration of the work' and because bringing in necessary equipment required to conduct the excavation of concrete at the pool 'could affect the stability of the remaining adjacent concrete constructions.'
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An aerial view of the site during a rescue operation of the Champlain Tower partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida, pictured on Thursday
Drilling took place up to a foot down in order to determine the structure of the concrete below. The work 'yielded some curious results as it pertained to the structural slab's depth' - but the reason as to why the results were 'curious' was not explained
The 2020 report details how at five sites, paving stones were lifted, concrete demolished and landscaping was removed in order to access what lie underneath
Although the report may not specifically identify what caused last weeks collapse of the north Miami condo, the documents highlight the state of disrepair the building had been allowed to languish, and may have played some part.
At the very least, issues appear to have been downplayed, ignored or put off being addressed and fixed up.
The report from last October, which was seen by USA Today, was reported to the condo board and building owners in phases rather than comprehensively which may have had the unfortunate affect of obscuring just how serious the problem was.
As of Friday morning, 18 people had been confirmed dead with 145 still missing.
Buildings in Miami-Dade County need to be recertified every 40 years and Morabito Consultants were hired by the Champlain Tower South Condominium Association to perform an inspection and conduct repairs which were to be completed by this year.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
A close up of the rubble taken on June 24, just a few hours after the collapse, show how part of the pool deck had given way to and crumbled
The report warned of major damage near the pool area.
The report also noted issues with the wall and edge of the swimming pool, deteriorated stair columns and deteriorated concrete in balcony fittings, likely caused by corrosion.
The engineering firm also reported removing loose and cracked concrete around the swimming pool area and in the pool's pump room, likely as a result of corrosion of the steel rebar, within the concrete. Standing water was also photographed in the pool equipment room.
Building staffers explained how the equipment room would need to be pumped out so frequently that pump motors were replaced every two years.
Any corrosion due to sea water or salt would have expanded the rebar and then damaged the concrete surrounding it.
The October 2020 report concluded that repairs were not going to be possible for several reasons.
Photos from a 2018 report show spalling with exposed steel reinforcement in the garage area of the condo building
Morabito suggested that the damage was deep within the wall surrounding the pool and that it would not be able to access the inside of the pool because it was still being used by the building's residents.
Secondly, the amount of excavation that would be needed to fix the areas could affect the stability of other buildings nearby, including the towers.
'It's expensive to fix, and you can't simply repair damage that is this extensive – you need to replace the damaged reinforcement and concrete,' Dawn Lehman, a professor of engineering at the University of Washington, said of the findings.
'There's no way that a structural member that has sustained that amount of concrete degradation and corrosion has the intended structural integrity; its structural performance has been compromised. But that's not the same as causing a building collapse,' she said.
Morabito also conducted some 'exploratory demolition' around the pool area in an attempt to uncover if problems were hidden by architectural but not structural portions of the building.
The report details how at five sites, paving stones were lifted, concrete demolished and landscaping was removed in order to access what lie underneath.
Photos taken less than 48 hours before the collapse in the pool equipment room located in the basement parking garage, show extensive concrete spalling and corroded rebar
A contractor took these photos and noticed that in the actual parking garage, there were puddles of water which were in the direct spot beneath the leaking pool deck
Drilling took place up to a foot down in order to determine the structure of the concrete below.
The work 'yielded some curious results as it pertained to the structural slab's depth' - but the reason as to why the results were 'curious' was not explained.
After the findings were revealed to the owners, the cost of the repairs at $7 million was a constant source of frustration among the residents.
As recently as April, the condo association's president wrote to owners informing them the deterioration of the building's concrete was 'accelerating' and the repair price tag had now soared to $16.2 million.
Another report by Morabito, a couple of years earlier in November 2018, still cited the need for repairs but at a far lower cost of $9.13 million.
Rosendo Prieto, the chief building official of Surfside until November 2020, reviewed the report telling the Champlain Tower South Condominium Association 'it appears the building is in very good shape.' Prieto was placed on leave from his job on Tuesday.
Rescue efforts at the Miami condo tower were forced to come to a halt Thursday amid fears the remaining structure could topple on search and rescue teams
Search and rescue teams look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story condo
On Wednesday, the body of Magaly Delgado was recovered.
She was identified by the Miami-Dade Police Department as a victim of the collapse on Thursday and lived on the ninth floor.
Delgado was born in Cuba and taught herself English when she moved to the U.S., daughter Magaly Ramsey said, describing her mother as a 'hardheaded' and 'independent' woman. Ramsey had said she was hoping for a 'miracle.'
'If there's one 80-year-old woman that might survive, it would have been my mother,' her Ramsey told the Palm Beach Post.
On Wednesday, the body of Magaly Delgado, 80 was recovered from the building. She was identified on Thursday. Delgago had lived on the ninth floor of the condo
'If there's one 80-year-old woman that might survive, it would have been my mother,' her daughter Magaly Ramsey, right, said
On Thursday it was revealed Florida officials are working on plans to tear down what's left of the partially collapsed oceanfront condominium.
After rescue efforts resumed Thursday evening, officials said they had started planning for the likely demolition of the remaining structure even as searchers continue to comb the rubble pile beneath it.
Scott Nacheman, a FEMA structures specialist, said engineers are looking at different methods for the demolition and how to proceed 'to make the site safe for ongoing rescue operations.'
Nacheman said that if the building comes down, there initially would be a slowdown in the rescue operation. But he said the demolition of the structure would create a safer working environment that could allow more personnel on the site and accelerate the pace of the work.
He said it would likely be weeks before officials schedule the demolition.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the decision about the demolition needs to be made 'extremely carefully and methodically,' considering the potential impact on the pile of debris and the effect on the search.
The rescue work was halted early Thursday after crews noticed widening cracks and up to a foot of movement in a large column.
Work resumed shortly before 5pm after the site was evaluated by structural engineers, Cava said, describing firefighters as 'really, really excited out there.'
'We will continue to search feverishly, as we have done all along in the parts of the collapse that we currently have access to,' she said.
The work stoppage had