Update on the Surfside Tower Tragedy

Since the collapse of the Champlain Towers South, the investigation of the catastrophe has been spearheaded by KCE Structural Engineers leading it. Here are some updates on what has happened since June 24th, 2021.

Less than a week after the collapse, Miami Beach City Manager Alina Hudak ordered inspections of 507 buildings that were close to or over 40 years old and near the beach front. Also, near the beach front Mayor Daniella Cava ordered for an immediate audit in Miami-Dade of all high-rise buildings older than 40 years old and taller than five stories, and all those built by developers Nathan Reiber and William M. Friedman. Associates Architects, Inc. (developer/designer of the Champlain Tower South). The building owners then had 21-30 days to provide documentation from a licensed P.E providing evidence that these buildings were safe for occupancy.

By August 17th, 2021, 9 buildings were of concern and 4 buildings have been evacuated due to unsafe conditions. Commissioner Michael Gongora is sponsoring a board discussion on the inspection process including the potential for earlier inspections of beachfront buildings and creating a reporting requirement for engineers/architects who discover structural deficiencies that pose a life safety concern.

Residents of Crestview Towers condominium standing outside the building as it was being evacuated.

Since July 1st, the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) has been working on ensuring that information and evidence related to the collapse is identified, collected, and preserved for the current investigation. Currently Allyn Kilshimer PE of KCE Structural Engineers is leading the investigation. His experience includes investigating major events such as the World Trade Center attack and the Oklahoma City Bombing. The firm, KCE, contributed to investigating the attack on the Pentagon during 9/11 and the FIU bridge pedestrian bridge collapse in 2018.

Kilshimer is assessing the Champlain Tower North to have a better understanding on how Champlain Tower South was built and is also working on the collapse site to study the reinforced concrete, balconies, and pool deck waterproofing. Kilshimer has stated: “This investigation will take several months…. there will be several contributing factors.”

Unfortunately, 98 people have died and our hearts go out to their families and loved ones.

Author: Sofia Covelli

Should We Be Worried About A Potential Hurricane Elsa?

When it comes to hurricane preparations we don’t want to just “let it go” for the last minute. With Tropical Storm Elsa predicted to skirt the west coast of Florida from tonight until making landfall in the Big Bend tomorrow afternoon.

Lets’ not underestimate her, remember Katrina was at first a tropical storm that turned into a Category 5 quickly. She strengthened into a Hurricane two hours before making landfall near Hallandale Beach, then once again weakened into a Tropical Storm until it reached the Gulf of Mexico. Because of the warm water in the Gulf, Katrina began to rapidly intensify into a Category 5 Hurricane, devastating the New Orleans area which is still affected 16 years later.  

NOAA has issued advisories to parts of the west coast of Florida and a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the Georgia Coast and some portions of the South Carolina Coast (where the storm may reach late Wednesday and early Thursday). Specifically on the west coast of Florida, a danger of storm surge is predicted for tonight and Wednesday. Like Katrina, Elsa has a potential to strengthen in the Gulf.

Katrina’s intensity when hitting Louisiana

Prepare for Elsa by making an emergency plan, knowing your evacuation routes, bringing furniture inside, charging electronics, and gathering necessary supplies. Although it is too early to know for sure that Elsa will become a powerful hurricane, it is better to be prepared than just going “into the unknown”.

Author: Sofia Covelli