Two blocks from the Champlain Towers, the twelve-story apartment building that collapsed here on Thursday, Sam Levine weeps. At least nine people have been confirmed dead and more than 150 are missing.
– It smells like after 9/11. My family was in New York at the time. We survived the 9/11 attacks. But it does seem as if the same unimaginable tragedy is happening again, he told DN.
In the neighborhood around Champlain Towers, you can see the spontaneous relief efforts of local residents that often occur after tragedies in the United States. Two children dressed in Orthodox Jewish garb, aged seven and ten, spin a cart of homemade bread that is being distributed to aid workers and bereaved relatives. Outside the Catholic Church across the street, two large Hispanic women with a cooler bag full of water bottles shout, “Agua! Water!” to thirsty passersby who need to relax in a scorching Miami era.
Along the coast here In Surfside, which is part of the Miami Beach peninsula, there are a lot of luxury hotels and luxury apartment buildings. Ivanka Trump has an apartment two blocks away, next to popular hotel chains such as the Four Seasons and The Ritz-Carlton.
But the building that collapsed was a modest twelve-story apartment building, most of whose residents came from the Miami middle class. They reflected the diversity that prevails in Miami. Friends and relatives of the home’s residents describe poolside barbecues with kosher food and salsa music.
Within walking distance of the ruins of the apartment building, relatives posted photos of the missing. There’s British couple Bhavna and Vishal Patel, with one-year-old daughter Ishani. Like many others, they moved here because they loved to sit on the balcony and watch the dramatic sunset over the Atlantic. The house was home to at least 30 parishioners in two synagogues around the corner, as well as relatives of Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez.
Rescue work over the weekend It was exacerbated by a massive fire that broke out late on Friday night.
Shortly thereafter, tropical rain arrived, filling the basement of the building with water, forcing rescuers to wade into the water and debris that had reached their chins in search of survivors.
About 150 people were still missing Sunday, but rescue workers could no longer find survivors in the landslides. It is noticeable among relatives and neighbors how hope seeps piece by piece. Several days after the landslide, relatives still appeared and sat outside the fences at the ruins of the apartment building, hoping to see their relatives alive again. But when the sun begins to set eight hours later, many have lost hope. Two sisters from Fort Lauderdale visit the Red Cross relief department in an attempt to get to know their father, who was living in the house.
– We gave up hope, frankly. One sister tells DN that it is impossible for him to survive.
Anger and frustration Among neighbors and relatives it increases as more details about the problems of the building are discovered. Many say poor infrastructure and fraudulent construction are a systematic problem in Miami. Tourists in Miami often find out how even the most beautiful hotel facades can hide dilapidated rooms.
The New York Times revealed over the weekend that architect Frank Morabito warned of cracks in the concrete under the building after an inspection three years ago.
In 2018, six people were killed when a large pedestrian bridge collapsed in downtown Miami. At that time, a wide debate arose in the city about inadequate infrastructure and challenges in renovating apartment buildings to withstand climate change and rising sea levels.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniela Levine Cava announced over the weekend that all buildings in the city that are over 40 years old will now undergo extensive inspections.
Many here worry that their apartment building is next in line. On the contrary, I think inspections will be better now so that we can learn to avoid these mistakes in the future. But it is likely that many of those living in similar and older buildings will need to evacuate. If I had an apartment in a 40-year-old here, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night,” Joel Rothman, who lives in the area, tells DN.
Like many on Surfside, it is They are now concerned that rising sea levels and salt water could destroy buildings along the coast.
The City of Miami really needs to get the apartment building regulations right here. I get fined every time I forget to mow the lawn, how could it be that this building wasn’t properly inspected?
Experts are so far careful to avoid hasty conclusions about the causes of the crash. But according to Albert Slab, one of Florida’s leading experts on how water damage affects apartment buildings, it’s only a matter of time before rising seas do real damage to homes along the coastline.
Miami Beach is built on limestone and coral, so this particular peninsula is more vulnerable. Over the years, the salt water here has penetrated more and more into the ground and made it as porous as Swiss cheese, Albert Slab tells DN.