When Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapsed and killed six people on March 15, 2018, it seemed reasonable to be on guard against driving on or under bridges and elevated highways in the ensuing days. But as weeks and months passed and no other bridge unexpectedly crumbled, this structural failure seemed to be an isolated event, and faith in the region’s infrastructure remained relatively intact.
The exact fear that Miami’s infrastructure would not hold up happened three years later when the 12-story Champlain Towers South tragically broke into its own underground parking garage, killing at least 97 people.
The loss has been catastrophic and has left society questioning the concept of a benevolent God, but, less abstractly, whether the structures we inhabit on this porous lump of limestone are actually safe. (Insurance companies are wonderingalso, although their motives are more economic than existential.)
In contrast to the aftermath of the collapse of the FIU bridge, as more time passes, more structures reveal themselves as unstable.
On Wednesday, the Miami-Dade County Unsafe Structures Board met for the first time since the Surfside collapse and revealed that an estimated 1,000 uncertain structures cases are currently pending.
The significant number, combined with news about partial collapse of a projection screen under construction in this weekend’s upcoming Rolling Loud hip-hop festival yesterday, asked New Times to put together a timeline of structures in Miami that have collapsed or been evacuated since the fall of Champlain Towers South on June 24th.
June 26: Champlain Towers North evacuated to Surfside
Located just north of the collapsed apartment tower, Champlain Towers North was built by the same developer a year after Champlain Towers South was completed. Mayor Charles Burkett of Surfside called the north tower “identical” to the south and told WSVN he should “recommend moving people out of the building.” Although evacuation was not mandatory, Burkett told New York Times it “personally [he] would not take that chance. ”
Residents who chose to evacuate were asked to visit FEMA’s Family Assistance Center to be relocated until the property could be properly inspected.
July 2: Crestview Towers evacuated in North Miami Beach
January 11th, an engineer issued an “uncertain” warning regarding the 156-unit apartment in North Miami Beach, citing structural and electrical concerns. But it was a revision after the collapse of Champlain Towers South that prompted the city’s building and zoning department to suddenly evacuate the building on July 2nd.
Of Crestview’s approximately 300 residents, 150 had no place to go in the three days the building was condemned. According to WPLG, a bus and carriage in North Miami Beach drove them to a temporary shelter at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Expo Center in Tamiami Park.
Residents were allowed to return July 5 Crestview Towers Association attorney Mariel Tollinchi explained that the necessary structural and electrical repairs could be safely carried out while the building was occupied.
July 3: Champs Elysees evacuated to South Beach
A three-story, 24-unit art deco apartment complex at 1619 Lenox Avenue was evacuated after a building official found problems with a floor system and damage to an exterior wall of a vacant unit. According to Miami Herald, Miami Beach Fire Rescue was called to an available unit, and then a building official was called in for inspection.
Miami Beach spokeswoman Melissa Berthier told WPLG, “In an abundance of caution, the building official has demanded that this building be vacated until further information can be obtained.”
The American Red Cross helped a resident who was not immediately able to secure housing.
July 4: Champlain Towers East evacuated to Surfside
Champlain Towers East was built in 1994 and was built by the same developer as Champlain Towers South and was a block away from the collapse. Some residents volunteered to evacuate in the immediate aftermath. But as Tropical Storm Elsa approached and planned demolition of the remaining part of the Champlain Towers South threatened, the board of the Champlain Towers East Condo Association sent a letter to the residents encourage them to evacuate “in an abundance of caution.” CNN reported that the letter advised residents to bring valuables, pets, passports and important documents.
July 9: Regent Palace evacuated to Surfside
A complex of 70-year-old, coral-clad buildings on Surfsides beach was voluntarily evacuated after an engineer identified structural problems with columns in the parking lot. According to Wall Street Journal, a developer who owned a majority of the devices has decided to buy the rest and probably demolish the structure. Surfside city building official James McGuinness told WSJ he regarded “Regent Palace as a success story because the problems were found and the residents voluntarily left for safety.”
July 10: Miami-Dade County Courthouse evacuates downtown
Most of the county’s civil lawsuits are heard in the 28-story Miami-Dade County Courthouse at 73 W. Flagler St. in downtown Miami. On July 10, floors 16 and above were evacuated after an engineer’s report identified “security issues.”
ABC News reported that the engineer’s report noted structural distress to support beams and steel and concrete columns.
Court staff were instructed to work from home while necessary repairs are completed.
The courthouse was built in 1928 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. In 2008, an inspector found widespread mold, water leaks and pests, which caused the building to temporarily close while repairs were made.
July 12: Devon Apartments evacuated in Miami Beach
Fourteen tenants of the 30-story two-story apartment located at 6881 Indian Creek Dr. were allowed to leave the property until July 19, after it was deemed unsafe. According to The real deal, the owner of the building had planned to demolish the structure and replace it with terraced houses.
Miami Beach spokeswoman Melissa Berthier said TRD that the building had shown “deficiencies” but “was not in danger of imminent collapse.”
LIVE: Part of the Rolling Loud stage at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens has collapsed, just a day before the festival was due to start. No injuries have been reported so far. (Note: No sound from helicopter.) https://t.co/9R5UzBCWWR
– WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) July 22, 2021
July 22: The Rolling Loud projection screen collapses in Miami Gardens
After being repeatedly reshuffled in the midst of the pandemic, the Rolling Loud hip-hop festival had finally secured its return, 23-25. July, with A $ AP Rocky, Post Malone and Travis Scott.
But hours before thousands of ticket holders were set to descend on the Hard Rock Stadium grounds in Miami Gardens for the long-awaited, sold-out music festival, it looks like a huge projection screen has collapsed on top of a stage.
Miami Herald reported that the screen had not been secured during construction and fell as a result.
ONE tweet from Rolling Loud’s account assured that no one was injured and the show continues.
September 1: Forum apartments evacuated to Bay Harbor Islands
On Wednesday night, tenants of the Forum apartments of 24 units were told to evacuate immediately after a building inspection found that the structure was unsafe. The building is located at 1080 93 Street in the Town of Bay Harbor Islands, approximately three miles from the site of Champlain Towers South.
Inspectors from a third-party engineering firm found significant structural defects in the building, prompting city officials and Bay Harbor police to evacuate tenants, according to a statement from Mayor Maria Lasday.
The 56-year-old apartment construction had been cited by the city and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue for numerous violations, according to the statement.
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