As of Saturday, the death toll stood at 24, with 124 people missing.
Emails, letters, notes and presentations from residents’ association board meetings revealed internal feuds after an engineer discovered in 2018 that the building had ‘major structural damage’ and recommended necessary but costly repairs.
Members expressed concern that the board was acting too slowly. At the end of 2019, five seven-person board members resigned in two weeks, citing frustration over the endless debate.
“The building is falling apart,” wrote Marcelo Pena, a former
board member, according to the New York Times. “Someone can be seriously injured or killed with the condition of the concrete.”
In a September 2019 letter resigning as chairman of the board, Anette Goldstein wrote of her frustration.
“We work for months to move in one direction and at the very last minute objections are raised that should have been discussed and resolved early on,” Goldstein wrote in the letter, obtained by The Washington Post.
“This pattern repeated itself over and over again, ego battles, undermining the roles of other board members, the circulation of gossip and falsehood.”
A resident told the New York Times that people remembered âscreaming and screamingâ at meetings.
The board then worked with the condo owners to decide how to respond to the 2018 report. The engineer, Frank Morabito, was hired to assess the building in anticipation of a mandatory recertification process as buildings in Miami and surrounding areas. must undergo every 40 years, to ensure structural and electrical safety.
It will likely take months to investigate the cause of the collapse. But Morabito’s report gives some insight into the issues the building was facing.
Morabito’s findings regarding the pool deck drew attention, as it appears that a section collapsed in the parking lot moments before the building collapsed in the early hours of June 24. A woman, currently missing, called her husband just before the collapse and told him she saw a sinkhole where the pool was.
Morabito noted that the waterproofing under the deck and the pool drive had failed and “was causing major structural damage to the concrete slab below these areas.”
A “major mistake” in the development of the building saw the waterproofing laid on a flat surface rather than at an angle, which would allow water to drain. Morabito noted that replacing the seal would be “extremely expensive” and disruptive.
As the debate over repairs continued, the price of those repairs rose from $ 9 million to $ 15 million. Each unit should have paid between $ 80,000 and $ 200,000, according to the New York Times.
In April, the board agreed to pay $ 15 million for the repairs, according to the Washington Post. A former board member told The New York Times he took out credit to help meet those payments.
But that same month, dozens of residents signed a letter, obtained by the Washington Post, which asked the board to consider reducing the cost of repairs, saying: “We cannot afford an assessment that doubles. the amount of maintenance fees currently paid. “
It looks like the repairs had to start. In May, according to the Miami Herald, the board reached out to Surfside officials, requesting approval for major projects.
As search and rescue continued on Friday, a building a few kilometers away was evacuated. A review prompted by the Surfside collapse found the building unsafe.
On Saturday, the city announced an emergency ordinance to demolish the standing portion of the South Champlain Towers.