Surfside apartment experience as it was and as it fell apart

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Surfside apartment collapse: one year later

One year ago, the small town of Surfside became a disaster area when the collapse of the Champlain South Towers claimed 98 lives. Survivors, families of victims and residents say they will never be forgotten.

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with a memorial

Ingrid “Etty” Ainsworth Zvi Ainsworth Michael Altman Richard Augustine Louis Ferdinand Barth Valeria Barth Deborah Perezdevin Louis Bermudez Elena Bali Claudio Bonnevoy Maricoy “Maria” Opis Bonifoy Gabriella Camu Andrea Catarrossi Gino Catarossi Graciela Catarrossi Stella Catarrossi Elena Chavez Brad Cohen Gary Cohen Magali Elena Delgado Bonnie Epstein David Epstein Stacy Fang Andres Galfrascoli Andreas Janisopoulos Catherine Gomez Edgar Gonzalez Anastasia Gromova Emma Guara Lucia Guara Marcos Guara Beatrice “Betty” Guerra Oresme “Gil” Guerra Estelle Hedaya Miguel Kaufman Frank Kleiman Jay Kleiman Manuel La Font Nicole “Nikki” Langsfield Alfredo Leon Lorenzo Leon Nancy Chris Levine Andres Levine Sofia Lopez Moreira Anthony Lozano Gladys Lozano Glory Machado Nicole Doran Manacherov Ruslan Manasherov Linda March Ana Mor John Mora A. John Moura Jr. Ilan Naibryf Hilda Noriega Arnold Notkin Myriam Caspi Notkin

Fabian Nunez Sofia Nunez Galfrascoli Christina Beatriz Elvira Ulyukovic Leon Ulyukovich Ana Ortiz Ishani Jia Patel Bhavna Patel Vishal Patel Michelle Bazos Miguel Bazos Alexia Pettingel Anna Pettingel Louis Pettingel Louis Bitengel III Francis Placencia Grace Ponce de Leon Maria Popa Mihai Radulescu Marina Restrepo Azn Moises Rodan Annali Rodriguez Harry Rosenberg Maria Teresa Rovirosa Richard Rovirosa Eileen Sabino Louis Sadovnik Rosa Size Simon Segal Judy Spiegel Cassondra “Cassie” Stratton Gonzalo Toure Marie Tower Mercedes Urgelles Raymond Urgels Margarita “Maggie” Vazquez Bello Angela Velasquez Julio Velasquez Teresa Velasquez Lady Vanessa Luna Villalba Pennywise Lisa “Malki” Wise

Thanks and appreciation

House of Cards is a project of the Miami Herald

Produced by Sarah Blasky and Suhail Al Jamea

Written by Sarah Blasky

The art of directing and moving Suhail Al Jamea

Illustrations by Rachel Handley

Page design by David Newcomb

Interactive Elements by David Newcombe and Aaron Albright

Additional reporting by Aaron Leibovitz, Ben Konark, Nicholas Nehamas and Anna Claudia Chasin

Edited by Casey Frank

Project Management and Visual Editing by Eduardo M. Alvarez

Forensic analysis by Dawn E. Lehman, a professor of engineering at the University of Washington, who served as a consultant for the Herald.

Finite Element Modeling by University of Washington graduate students Nicolette Lewis and Ray Yu under the supervision of Professor Lyman

Other consultants include: Dan Abrams, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois Grainger School of Engineering; Abiiwa Agairi, Professor in Drexel University’s School of Engineering; Atrud Azizinamini, Director of the Moss School of Building, Infrastructure and Sustainability at Florida International University; David Lange, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois Grainger School of Engineering; Khaled Muslim, director of the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley; Shankar Nair, a structural engineer with over 50 years of professional experience and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and past president of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat; Eugenio Santiago, Structural Engineer and Retired Chief Construction Officer for Key Biscayne; and Greg Schlesinger, general contractor and attorney from Fort Lauderdale.

Sound Engineering by Davin Coburn

Edited by Marie Behne

Logo Design: Gabrielle G. McCall

Robert Lessman’s photo

Additional computer-generated images of the Champlain South Towers submitted by the team at XOLOVFX

Office space and logistical support from Sacramento Bee

Special thanks to all the survivors and family members of the victims who trusted us with their stories.

Editor’s note

Six months ago, when the Champlain Towers South suddenly collapsed, killing 98 people in Surfside, Florida, the Miami Herald sought to tell the full story of the tragedy and its profound impact on the Miami community. As a local registered news organization, we were there on the first day, throughout the search and rescue operation, and every month after that. We paid tribute to the victims and told stories of how they got to the apartment on June 24. Our coverage included the history of the Canadian developers behind the project, detailed problems with the building, and revealed the turbulent pasts of engineers, architects and contractors who cut corners, covered ongoing litigation, provided critical context for legislative efforts, and shed light on the city, as an unorganized building management official told Residents once reported that the stricken tower is in good condition. Powerful images provided daily by Herald photographers and video journalists depicted beyond words alone as they told the story of a community that came together first in search of hope and later through shared grief.

As part of a forensic investigation into potential causes of the building’s failure, the Herald reconstructed the collapse from witness testimony and other records and worked with engineers to review building plans to identify weaknesses in the original design. Investigative reporters worked with Dawn Lehman, a professor of engineering at the University of Washington, to research what went wrong and test theories about the origins of the collapse using advanced computer modeling.

The Herald’s latest reports have been submitted to federal investigators through the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and are used in their ongoing efforts to identify the root cause, or most likely causes of failure.

This interactive article is available to everyone. It is a public service to those affected by this tragedy in our community and beyond. We’re here to cover the stories that matter most to you and our communities, and to produce exceptional journalism, often under challenging circumstances. To support our ongoing exclusive reporting, animation, and production, please consider subscribing to the Miami Herald. Your support will help you invest in the future of robust and effective local reporting.

—Monica Richardson, Executive Editor of The Miami Herald

This story was originally published December 29, 2021, 11:21 p.m.