A year after one of the deadliest structural failures in American history, investigators are still wiser as to why the Surfside complex collapse that killed 98 people in Miami.
Investigators said it could take another year before conclusions can be drawn about the cause of the collapse of the 12-storey building.
‘How do we not know what happened a year later? How do we not know who might be responsible? Martin Langsfield, whose sister Nicole was killed in the meltdown, spoke to CBS Miami last week. “We need answers.”
A team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cataloged evidence from Champlain Towers South.
Structural engineers said they are working on analyzing 3D models to help them determine the cause of the collapse.
The next step is to begin what she calls “invasive testing” of the physical evidence, which involves cutting samples of steel and concrete for chemical and corrosion testing.
Investigators say they have not yet found the cause of the deadly Surfside building collapse that killed 98 people in 2021 in Florida.
Listed on a screen surrounding the vacant lot where the 12-storey building collapsed, family members of the dead said they wanted answers from the authorities. It may be another year before they get answers
Search and rescue teams search for potential survivors in the 12-storey South Apartment building in the partially collapsed Champlain Towers on June 30, 2021 in Surfside
“Our engineers and scientists feel a great responsibility to get them right because this work often leads directly to changes in codes and standards used when constructing new buildings or renovating existing ones,” Tanya Brown Giamanco, director of disaster and failure studies at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) wrote. In a blog post.
The team also conducted interviews with surviving residents and first responders, according to Axios.
A slew of lawsuits, fines, and maintenance issues hampered the construction and repair of the Champlain Towers in Surfside before they collapsed.
Surfside complex was designed by architect William Friedman, 13 years after his license was suspended for six months due to a collapse.
The Miami Herald reported in September that building contractor Alfred Weisbrod lost his license amid claims of fraud and negligence prior to the collapse.
The licensing agency has filed three administrative cases accusing Weisbrod — who was fined three times and threatened with suspension for various offenses before giving up his license in 1998 — of completing, and failing to complete, specialist work without the appropriate permits, licenses and inspections. Contract labor, mismanagement, inefficiency and fraud during the 1980s and 1990s.
The developer was also accused of tax evasion, and the architect was previously suspended after the structure he built collapsed.
A 2018 engineering report detailed cracked and deteriorating concrete beams in an underground parking garage and other problems that could cost nearly $10 million to fix.
The repairs did not happen, and the estimate grew to $15 million in 2021 as the owners of the building’s 136 units and its governing council squabbled over the cost, especially after a Surfside city inspector told them the building was safe.
The 2018 engineering report found structural deficiencies that are now the focus of many inquiries, including the grand jury investigation.
Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the half-height collapse of one of the deadliest buildings in US history.
A 2018 engineering report detailed cracking and deteriorating concrete support beams in an underground parking garage and other problems that could cost nearly $10 million to fix.
The repairs did not happen, and the estimate grew to $15 million in 2021 as the owners of the building’s 136 units and its governing council argued over the cost, especially after a Surfside inspector told them the building was safe.
In May, relatives of the dead agreed to a settlement worth nearly $1 billion, at the end of an expedited court process aimed at swiftly closing the families.
A Miami court overseen by Circuit Court Judge Michael Hansman announced $997 million in damages on May 11.
Family members of the 98 people who died in horror in June 2021 have sued the building’s insurers, developers of an adjacent apartment building, an engineering firm that warned of the tower’s structural problems, and other defendants.
The case was settled in an unusually fast fashion, and the final payout was much higher than expected.
The initial amount of insurance money to settle claims for victims who lost their homes and those who lost family members was $50 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The land on which the 12-storey Champlain South Tower was sitting sold for $120 million.
The judge said he wanted the insurance proceeds to go to the victims rather than be used for legal fees from the lengthy litigation.
The 40-year-old building with about 136 apartments collapsed on June 24, 2021, when many residents were asleep.
The devastating scenes shocked the nation, and frightened the millions of people who lived in old apartment buildings.
Structural engineers issued simple warnings, but there was no serious cause for concern, and there were no mitigating factors such as severe weather to cause the collapse.
Prosecuting attorneys had long sought a sum of nearly $1 billion, but attorneys believed the settlement was overambitious.
A woman adds flowers to the memorial on June 28
Marcos Joseph Guara, 52, the youngest of the three siblings, lived on the eighth floor, in Unit 802, with his wife, Anneli Rodriguez, 42, and their daughters Lucia and Emma, ages 11 and 4. They all died in the collapse
Mourners stopped on June 27 at the temporary memorial to the 98 who died
Little remains of New Yorker Estelle Hedaya were found in the collapse of a Surfside apartment in Miami
Relatives of victims embrace on July 15 during a candlelight vigil for those who have died
Lawyers for residents and their relatives said the lost units ranged in value from about $400,000 to about $2.9 million, and that the settlement was necessary to include compensation for potential trauma and punitive damages a jury might rule.
Lawyers at the hearing did not disclose details of how much the defendants were paying as part of the settlement.
The lawsuit also alleged that work on the adjacent Eighty Seven Park tower damaged and destabilized a building in dire need of major structural repair.
Several families wanted to erect a memorial on the grounds of the building’s south tower, but their plans were thwarted when the property sold for $120 million.
A total of 55 apartments in the 136-unit apartment complex have collapsed, with about 80 percent of the building reportedly occupied.
Officials said at the time that they believed the building was “largely full”.
After initial on-site recovery efforts were completed, officials moved the rubble to a site 14 miles from the apartments near Miami International Airport.
The ruins were divided into a heap, based on the presumed value of the evidence they might hold.
The parts that the crew determined contained possible remains are moved inside the warehouse, while the remaining parts are left outside.
The county has asked the judge’s permission to dispose of the wreckage they consider irrelevant to the investigation, but the families are not convinced that all the remains have been found.
The Champlain Tower building was seen before the tragedy
The Champlain South Tower collapsed in Surfside, Florida on June 24, 2021
Rescue workers were captured on June 27 searching through the rubble for survivors
The rest of the apartments were demolished on July 4 (pictured) in a controlled explosion