June 24th marks one year since the tragic collapse of Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium in the Miami suburb of Surfside, partially collapsed, leading to the death of 98 people. In memory of lives lost, Floridian lawmakers are paying respects, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, who on Friday morning helped lead a Surfside remembrance event.
Following the immediate investigation, it was found that the main contributing factor to the collapse was the long-term degradation of reinforced concrete structural support in the basement-level parking garage under the dwelling units, due to water penetration and corrosion of the reinforcing steel.
The structural issues were reportedly brought to attention in 2018 and again in April 2021. A $15 million program of remedial works for the building was approved but was unstarted before the time of the collapse.
“One year ago I got a call at about 3 A.M. The report was that there was a partial collapse of a condo building in South Florida. I knew that was serious, but the image in my mind was that maybe some balconies had fallen or something that was manageable. As I made my way down here I started to see images on tv and it looked more serious than that. It didn’t hit me until I was on the ground. It was a massive collapse … It was a tough, tough situation. As Governor I want to say thank you [to first responders] for stepping up and being there. It was not an easy job.”
Following the tragedy, state lawmakers pledged legislation to create safer condo regulations, going on to sign a bill in May that requires statewide recertification of condominiums over three stories tall. Notably, statewide recertification will be required after 30 years, or 25 years if the building is within 3 miles (5 kilometers) of the coast, and every 10 years thereafter. The legislation also prevents condo associations from waiving maintenance reserve funds.
“Today—1 year later—let us take time to remember the 98 we lost. Thank brave first responders who put their own safety on the line. Reflect on the devastating impact the Surfside tragedy has had on everyone touched by it and recommit ourselves to preventing another bldg tragedy,” said Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book.
The bill was well-received by the public, with a poll conducted before the bill signing showing that over 86 percent of Florida voters wanted to see more frequent and stricter condo and apartment inspections for multi-family homes.
Before the passage of legislation, most towns, cities, and communities within the state didn’t require structural inspections at any level of regularity, including post-occupancy safety checks.
Florida is home to over 900,000 condo units that are 30 years or older, with a further 105,000 units exceeding 50 years in age.
“Tragedy struck Florida 1 year ago as the Champlain Towers in Surfside suddenly collapsed,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody. “The heartbreak and grief from that tragic day are still fresh. We will never forget those lost or the heroic actions of our first responders who rushed to the scene & worked around the clock.”