‘Sister’ building to collapsed Florida condo may be evacuated as precaution

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The sister building to the collapsed 12-story condo tower in South Florida may be evacuated as soon as Saturday.

“I know they are looking at that,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference Saturday morning, in the community of Surfside, just north of Miami Beach.

Champlain Towers North was built at the same time as Champlain Towers South, the L-shaped condo building that crumbled early Thursday. DeSantis noted they were built by the same builder and designed by the same designer.

“I know they are considering potentially evacuating them,” DeSantis said of the residents in the north tower. “But that’s something that ultimately the mayor is going to have to make the call on.”

At an emergency meeting Friday, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said, “It would be imprudent not to take some types of steps to address that issue with the sister building,” The Palm Beach Post reported.

He acknowledged it would be “inconvenient” to move everyone out of the building, which has more than 125 condos.

“But given we have no idea what caused this collapse — and listen, the chances of that happening again are like lightning striking — but I don’t know that there’s anybody in this room that would be willing to roll the dice with all those lives and say, let’s not worry about it for a while.”

Miami Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at the news conference the county was unaware of a 2018 report citing “major structural damage” in the collapsed building. Both of the structures were due to be recertified for structural and electrical safety under Florida law, a process which first takes place in buildings at the 40-year mark, then every 10 years after.

There’s no indication the North tower has any issues, but “given the similarities, given the same age,” DeSantis said, it’s a concern.

A third building in the complex was constructed in 1994, after some building codes were changed as a result of 1992’s Hurricane Andrew.

The county will immediately start an audit of all buildings 40 years old and up, said Levine Cava.

“We want to move swiftly to remediate any issues that may have been identified in that process,” she said. “We’re going to conduct this audit within the next 30 days and we’re beginning right now.”

She added a call for the cities within the county to start similar reviews.

“I invite you to join with us aggressive review, as well, of situations in these buildings to make sure that they are safe. We’re to work closely with our cities and provide technical assistance and get this job done.”

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