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Evacuations ordered at a Florida building are considered unsafe not far from the site of the Surfside collapse

Residents have been ordered to evacuate an apartment building in North Miami Beach, Fla., after engineers determined the five-story building unsafe, a discovery that comes months after the fatal condo building collapse in nearby Surfside.

A firm hired by Bayview 60 Homes owners to help bring the building into compliance for the upcoming 50-year recertification brought its assessment to the attention of officials Monday, North Miami Beach city manager Arthur Sorey said. Built in 1972, the structure had previously passed its 40-year recertification inspections.

In a letter written on Friday and received by city building officials on Monday, civil engineer Bronislaus P. Taurinski said his firm had noticed excessive “deflection” — or deflection — in the concrete slabs on the building’s second and third floors .

“As such, it is my responsibility to inform you that the building structure is structurally unstable and requires immediate evacuation,” Taurinski wrote.

Some deflection in a building’s concrete slabs is normal, but too much can be a sign the building is unsafe, engineering experts said in interviews.

Unsafe deflections also often involve cracks, said Rick Slider, a South Florida structural engineer.

The Taurinski letter does not mention whether his company found cracks.

A North Miami Beach condominium building deemed structurally unsafe is evacuated on April 4, 2022.
A North Miami Beach condominium building deemed structurally unsafe is evacuated on April 4, 2022.WTVJ

“The city is working with the owner to ensure all residents receive adequate assistance with their move within the next 24 hours,” Sorey said. “The safety of local residents is our number one concern and we are working to mobilize our resources for the site as quickly as possible.”

Renters will be compensated up to $150 per night for the next three nights’ lodging, they will receive their April rent and security deposits back from the building’s owners, the city manager’s office confirmed. Officers will assist in making arrangements for them to retrieve their personal belongings.

Bayview 60 Homes owners began investigating the building in July last year, Sorey said, shortly after 98 people were killed in a condo building collapse in Surfside, south of North Miami Beach.

A grueling search and rescue operation was launched after several floors in the Champlain Towers South suddenly gave way in late June. About a month later, and weeks after the rest of the building collapsed in a controlled explosion, officials were able to identify the 98th victim.

The official cause is still under investigation by federal authorities, although consulting engineer Frank Morabito’s findings in 2018 showed there were “ample cracks” and fractures in the 12-story building’s underground parking garage.

A Miami-Dade County grand jury investigating the collapse also theorized that saltwater intrusion had likely damaged the building’s foundation, according to a December report.

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In July, North Miami Beach officials ordered evacuations at the Crestview Towers Condominium, also built in 1972. A January 2021 report said the 156-unit complex was “structurally and electrically unsafe.”

The report was made to the North Miami Beach Building and Zoning Department by building management following the Surfside collapse.

The destruction of the Champlain Towers South prompted stricter scrutiny of structural maintenance of older buildings throughout South Florida, particularly buildings managed by condominium associations. Officials at the time promised to change the process of security inspections in condominiums.

But state legislators couldn’t agree last month on a bill that would require inspections of aging condos and require housing boards to conduct studies to determine how much to set aside for repairs.

State Assemblyman Daniel Perez, a Miami-Dade County Republican, sponsored a bill that would have filled a loophole that allows these bodies to avoid putting money in reserves. But the Florida Senate rejected the proposal, saying it would place a heavy financial burden on condo owners.

“It wasn’t a negotiable piece for us,” Perez said at the time. “We never wanted to negotiate the waiver of reserves because that’s part of the problem that caused the Surfside incident.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/evacuations-ordered-florida-building-deemed-unsafe-not-far-site-surfsi-rcna22897 Evacuations ordered at a Florida building are considered unsafe not far from the site of the Surfside collapse

Caroline Bleakley

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