Engineer Frank Morabito found abundant cracks and crumbs in the columns, beams, and walls of the parking lot of the Champlain Towers condo that collapsed early Thursday morning. Rescuers search for the 159 missing under the rubble.
In 2018, three years before the collapse of the Champlain Towers condominium building in Miami, a consultant found alarming evidence of "significant structural damage" to the concrete slab under the pool deck and "abundant" cracks and collapses in the columns, beams, and walls of the establishment's parking lot, according to The New York Times.
The engineer's report prompted plans for a multi-million dollar repair project due to start shortly. Still, the building collapsed early Thursday morning that claimed the lives of four people and left more than 150 missing.
City officials released the 2018 report late Friday detailing the full nature of the damage to the concrete and rebar, most likely caused by years of exposure to corrosive sea air along the coast of South Florida.
"Although some of this damage is minor, most of the deterioration of the concrete needs to be repaired promptly," consultant Frank Morabito had warned about the damage near the base of the structure in his October 2018 report, according to The New York Times. It did not provide any indication that the structure was at risk of collapse. However, it noted that the necessary repairs would be aimed at "maintaining the structural integrity" of the building and its 136 units.
Morabito explained that the objective of his report was to understand and document the scope of structural problems that would require repair or remediation.
"These documents will allow the Condominium Board to properly assess the general condition of the building, notify tenants how they may be affected, and provide a safe and functional infrastructure for the future, " he added in his report.
The attorney representing the residents' association managing the building, Kenneth S. Direktor, said repairs had been scheduled for this year.
"They were about to start," he said in an interview quoted by The York Times, adding that the process would have been carried out very differently if the owners had any indication that corrosion and decay were a serious threat.
Surfside Commissioner Eliana Salzhauer expressed her disagreement that, in her opinion, the collapse could have been prevented after the warnings in the report. "It is annoying to see these documents because the board of the condominium became clearly aware that there were problems, and it seems that they were not addressed," he said, according to The New York Times.
Investigators have not yet identified the cause of the collapse. They are waiting to gain full access to where rescue teams continue to search the rubble for missing people.
The experts pointed out that evaluating the possible causes that produced the collapse could take months. It includes a review of the individual building components that may now be buried in the rubble, testing the concrete to assess its integrity, and an examination of the soil beneath to see if a sinkhole or other subsidence was the cause. Responsible for the collapse.
The building had recently begun a recertification process, a requirement for 40-year-old structures that withstood hurricanes off the Florida coast, storm surges, and corrosive saline air that can penetrate concrete and rust rebar. And the steel beams inside.