An April letter from the president of the doomed Florida building’s condo board association reportedly warned the residents that the “observable damage such as in the garage” had gotten “significantly worse” since an inspection about three years ago.
“The observable damage such as in the garage has gotten significantly worse since the initial inspection from 2018,” board president Jean Wodnicki wrote in the letter obtained by CNN.
“The concrete deterioration is accelerating. The roof situation got much worse, so extensive roof repairs had to be incorporated,” she wrote in the April 9 letter.
Wodnicki added: “When you can visually see the concrete spalling (cracking), that means that the rebar holding it together is rusting and deteriorating beneath the surface.”
In a damning 2018 private study, engineer Frank Morabito flagged “major structural damage” caused by a leaky pool due to “failed waterproofing” above the parking garage in the Champlain Towers South in Surfside.
Morabito Consultants told CNN in a statement that the report “detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete.”
The report didn’t say whether the tower was at risk of collapse, but the company said it provided an estimate to the condo association to “make the extensive and necessary repairs.”
Wodnicki’s letter, which also warned of concrete damage and under-the-surface rust, talked about $15 million worth of construction projects that would be funded through assessments, the Wall Street Journal found.
“A lot of this work could have been done or planned for in years gone by. But this is where we are now,” states the letter, which explained how the initial scope of the 2018 work estimates were expanded.
“Other previously identified projects have been rolled under the main project. New problems have been identified. Also, costs go up every year. This is how we have gone from the estimated $9,128,433.60 cited in Morabito’s 2018 report, to the much larger figure we have today,” according to the letter obtained by CNN.
The board later approved the $15 million in repairs, according to an assessment letter obtained by the network.
Asked about the letter Tuesday morning, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told CNN: “Well, it’s all starting to come together now, because as I’ve said all along, I mean, there was something very, very wrong at this building.
“Buildings in America just don’t fall down like this. This is a Third World phenomenon, not a First World phenomenon,” he added. “It’s even more than frustrating when you see what they were told in 2018 … and then to hear the condo talking about it just two months ago — it’s even worse.”
Meanwhile, Burkett said there are “waves of men and women” involved in the search-and-rescue effort at the disaster site as the death toll stands at 11, with 150 people unaccounted for.
“I was told there’s about 100 people on the pile right now, with hundreds waiting standing by to get up there as those men and women tire out. So, I’m not too concerned about the manpower issue. I just want to be able to keep working,” he told CNN.
Burkett also described concerns about falling debris from the remaining tower.
“Overnight, they did have some stuff falling down from the building that’s still standing. And that’s going to have to be addressed,” he said.
“I understand from my discussions over the past few days that they will address that, they will have to pick those pieces off, tie them to the crane, cut the steel, and remove them so it’s safe for the workers to get down in there,” Burkett added.