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Problematic pool deck at collapsed Florida building flagged 25 years ago

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Concerns over the stability of a cracked pool deck at the collapsed Florida condo building raised flags as far back as 25 years ago, according to a new report.

The pool deck at Champlain Tower South, now the focus of a probe into the deadly collapse in Surfside, had 500 cracks that needed to be sealed and a 20-square-foot slab that needed to be replaced during a 1996 inspection, the Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

“The scope of work will be concrete structural repair in the parking garage,” Rob Sommer of Western Waterproofing Company of America said in a March 1996 letter to Surfside building officials, the Herald said.

“This type of repair entails removing loose concrete overhead, treating steel rebar with rust inhibitive coating and patching back with repair mortar,” Sommer wrote. “Also included in the garage will be urethane foam inspection sealing the cracks.”

In a Nov. 20, 1997, letter to the town, engineer Tong Le reported that the $156,602 job “has been performed under our inspection from the beginning to completion.”

But concerns over the deck, which sat atop a parking garage, surfaced again in 2018 when engineer Frank Morabito found “major structural damage” there.

Repairs recommended by Morabito ballooned from $9 million to more than $15 million while condo board members bickered over the price tag for three years.

Last month, just 36 hours before the collapse, a commercial pool contractor snapped new photos of the site, and said there was “standing water all over the parking garage.”

The building fell shortly before 1:30 a.m. June 24, just seven minutes after tourists from an adjacent building filmed water gushing into the garage.

Authorities have not determined an official cause of the collapse.

As of Tuesday, 95 people have been confirmed dead in the catastrophe, with 14 others still unaccounted for, as first responders continue to sift through the debris.


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