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Miami condo near scene of Surfside collapse evacuated

Residents were unexpectedly ordered to leave the 14-story oceanfront structure near the scene of the collapse that killed nearly 100 last year

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Coast Guard boats patrol in front of the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Fla.

Coast Guard boats patrol in front of the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Fla., on July 1, 2021. Residents of the Miami Beach building on the same street where a condominium collapse killed nearly 100 people were forced to evacuate on Thursday evening, Oct. 27, 2022, after officials determined the structure was unsafe and gave orders to leave.

Mark Humphrey, Associated Press

Residents of a condo not far from the site of the Surfside, Florida, condo collapse last year were told to vacate their homes Thursday night.

The Associated Press said an “unsafe structure notice” was posted at the Port Royale Condominium, a fact confirmed for the news organization by Miami Beach spokesperson Mellissa Berthier via email.

The building, which was undergoing a mandatory recertification, was ordered vacated after a structural engineer found that a main support beam that was ordered repaired 10 months ago had shifted and a crack had expanded. The engineer’s report noted other issues, as well.

The Miami Herald said residents were given two hours’ notice to leave.

“At least one observer said the damage extends beyond a single support beam,” AP reported.

ABC affiliate WPLG cited reports from Marsh Markaj, a construction worker who said he’d noticed problems for some time and had taken videos and photos. “Cracks in the column, cracks in the base, in the garage, in the pool, everywhere,” he said. “It’s not possible to fix this, I don’t think so.”

The TV report said that “images attached to the official inspection report showed damage to walls of the building, water leaking into an electrical gutter and chipping and spalling on columns in a parking area.”

The inspection notice suggested repairs could take about 10 days and then, after an inspection, residents could be allowed back inside.

Echoes of Champlain collapse

The building is located at 6969 Collins Ave., just over a mile south on Collins Avenue from the site of the Champlain Towers South condo collapse in Surfside, Florida. In June 2021, 98 people died when one tower of that condominium complex dropped.

AP called that collapse a “disaster” that “drew the largest non-hurricane emergency response in Florida history, including rescue crews from across the U.S. and as far away as Israel to help local teams search for victims.”

AP also reported that the collapse of Champlain Towers South “focused scrutiny on the structural integrity of aging condominium towers throughout Florida, especially along its coastlines, and the state has since moved to strengthen laws requiring inspections and periodic recertification of buildings.”

It said new state rules require a shorter time period between recertifications, with a period of every 10 years for older buildings. And if negligence leads to a building being evacuated, Miami-Dade County requires the owners to provide as much as three months of housing, AP said.

According to the Miami Herald, “The city of Miami Beach went further in an ordinance that received final approval from the City Commission on Wednesday, saying building or unit owners must cover the costs regardless of who is deemed at fault. The city ordinance says owners should pay for ‘all necessary arrangements’ to relocate the displaced residents for up to three months, as well as moving costs and expenses for parking, transportation, storage and meals while the building remains uninhabitable.”