Surfside condo collapse prompts industry changes

Tragedy in South Florida sends aftershocks rippling across the country

July 12, 2021

By Katherine Kallergis

Raysa Rodriguez, 59, described the moment she was awakened by the collapsing northeast portion of her Surfside condo building, home to more than 50 units.

The tower “swayed like a sheet of paper,” Rodriguez said, according to a lawsuit filed on her behalf. It was 1:30 a.m. on June 24, and she fled. After making it to an outdoor stairwell, she was faced with the devastation that had been Champlain Towers South.

“The beachside of Champlain had collapsed, pancaked,” she recounted in the complaint. “I screamed in horror.”

At least 90 people died in the disaster, according to the latest count, with dozens of others still unaccounted for. The collapse of the tower, where a 2018 inspection identified design and structural flaws, has sent aftershocks reverberating across the country as residents of buildings from Miami Beach to California are alerting engineers and inspectors to cracked concrete, rusty rebar and water leaks.

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