Surfside condo collapse: Demolition likely within 36 hours – Palm Beach Post

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Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday morning that the remaining portion of the Champlain Towers South condo will be demolished as soon as possible, possibly within 36 hours.

The news comes a day after Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she authorized the demolition of the structure, which is spilling occasional debris — risking the safety of rescue workers on the rubble pile — and may spill more as Tropical  Elsa’s impact closes in on South Florida.

More: Death toll rises to 22 in Florida condo collapse; another Florida condo building deemed unsafe, evacuation ordered

“Given the fact of the storm is coming, and given the fact we were going to have to do this anyways, is the prudent thing to do,” DeSantis said at a press conference Saturday morning. “And I think it will it will lead to the course of action that most minimally disrupts the rescue efforts.”

Levin Cava said families of the missing, whom rescuers have been searching for since part of the tower collapsed in the early morning hours of June 24, were notified and “understand.”

DeSantis said the state will pay for the demolition, which will be done by Maryland-based CDI Controlled Demolition Inc. The tower likely will be brought straight down using some type of explosive charge.

More: No city outside of Broward or Miami-Dade requires 40-year building safety check. That could change

More: Surfside tragedy: Who’s monitoring the monitors?

The governor said the hope is that the building can be brought down before the impacts of Tropical Storm Elsa are felt.

Robert Molleda, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, said weather conditions may worsen as early as Monday afternoon in South Florida, including frequent rain bands and gusty winds.

Those conditions could continue through Tuesday, he said. But any slight shift to the east by Elsa would worsen these conditions, so he warned that residents remain vigilant.

Original story:

SUNRISE — City officials in North Miami Beach, just north of Surfside, called for an emergency meeting Saturday after ordering the evacuation of a condominium tower just five miles from last week’s building collapse that left 22 dead and more than 120 missing.

Authorities said Friday that the closing of the 156-unit Crestview Towers stems from an audit prompted by the Champlain Towers South disaster in Surfside.

More: ‘We will not rest’: Second condo tower evacuated in wake of collapse; audit of buildings underway in South Florida

“In an abundance of caution, the City ordered the building closed immediately and the residents evacuated for their protection, while a full structural assessment is conducted and next steps are determined,” North Miami Beach City Manager Arthur H. Sorey, III said. “Nothing is more important than the safety and lives of our residents, and we will not rest until we ensure this building is 100% safe.”

County mayor approves the razing of remaining portion of South tower

That decision came just hours after Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she authorized the demolition of the remaining portion of the Champlain Towers South condominium.

It’s unclear how soon that will happen, but it likely can’t be done before Hurricane Elsa hits South Florida.

Levine Cava said it is “extremely dangerous for that building to remain intact.”

Throughout Friday, emergency workers pushed ahead while keeping an eye on falling debris from the still-standing part of the Champlain South tower, and on Elsa, which threatens to bring heavy rain and wind to the area as soon as this weekend.

Rescuers recovered four more bodies from the rubble since Thursday evening, bringing the number of confirmed dead to 22, with 126 unaccounted for.

One of the bodies recovered overnight was the 7-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter.

Levine Cava said Thursday night it was “truly different and more difficult” for first responders conducting the search and rescue mission because of that grim discovery.

Efforts to recover survivors enters second week

Rescue efforts are now into their second week and with each passing day, the chances of finding any more survivors grow slimmer. The only rescued survivor from the collapsed portion of the building was recovered hours after part of the condo collapsed in the early morning hours of June 24.

Rescuers lost precious hours of work Thursday as concerns about the integrity of the remaining portion forced searchers to stop sifting through the pile of rubble. 

Victims of the collapse: Remembering those who died in the Champlain Towers condo collapse in Surfside, Florida

Engineers cleared rescuers to return to the pile late Thursday afternoon, but their efforts are being limited to a smaller area in order to keep clear of debris falling from the remaining portion.

Now rescuers are in a race against Mother Nature as Hurricane Elsa threatens South Florida. The site of the collapse is in the “cone of uncertainty,” though it is too early to say exactly how, when or even if, Elsa would effect the rescue efforts.

The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center has Elsa passing west of Miami as a tropical storm sometime Monday, with the possibility of high winds, rain and storm surge for South Florida.

When the building fell: ‘It would take a miracle’: Victims’ families, survivors lose hope as rescue efforts stall in Surfside building collapse

“There is a lot of uncertainty in the forecast: how it will evolve, how the storm will interact with the land areas that are to our south,” said Robert Molleda, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami.

“And that could affect not only the intensity, or how strong the storm is, but also the track that it takes,” he said.

What could Hurricane Elsa do to the unstable site? 

That is bad news for rescuers who are already worried about the stability of both the remaining portion of the building and the pile of rubble they are digging through. Even if high winds didn’t threaten to demolish the remaining building, they could blow falling debris onto the rescue area and heavy rains could cause the pile of rubble to shift as pulverized concrete turns to mud.

Officials have acknowledged the remaining portion will have to be demolished. But how and when that could happen is yet to be determined.

It could take weeks to plan and prepare for such a demolition, said Scott Nacheman, an engineer with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We are currently looking at several different methodologies and as we get technical data, as we get stakeholder information, those decisions will be made,” Nacheman said. 

But Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said he wants to fast-track the possible demolition of the remaining section.

“In most cases, setting up for a demolition is a time-consuming effort in testing and making sure it doesn’t have asbestos. There’s a list of things that you do. But we’ve got a potential hurricane coming that’s going to demolish it for us,” Burkett said, addressing reporters after a Friday morning press conference.

“And if that happens — and it just happens to blow it the wrong direction — it could be a mess of immense proportion,” he said.

The disaster site is hemmed in by the pile of the rubble to the east, buildings to the north and south, and Collins Avenue, the main beachfront road to the west. Across Collins Avenue is a park and tennis center.

North Miami Beach officials ordered a thorough review of all condo high rises

North Miami Beach officials said they ordered “a thorough review” of all condo high-rise buildings above five stories high to see if they are in compliance with city and county safety codes.

On Friday, Crestview Towers, built in 1972, submitted a recertification report, dated January 11, 2021, in which an engineer retained by the condo association board concluded that the 156-unit building was structurally and electrically unsafe, the city of North Miami Beach said in a news release.

The building had reported millions of dollars in damage from 2017′s Hurricane Irma, although it is unclear if any of the latest issues are related.

It is the first building to be evacuated since municipal officials in South Florida, and statewide, began scrutinizing older high-rises in the wake of the Surfside collapse to ensure that substantial structural problems are not being ignored.