MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett tells CBS4 that a review has already been launched of the Champlain Towers North condominium, a replica building that is just one block north of the Champlain Towers South that partially collapsed on June 24th.
Burkett tells CBS4’s Peter D’Oench “We have got our staff inside the building right now as we speak looking at it, analyzing structural systems, with ground-penetrating radar and other tools to start to establish whether there is a glaring anomalies or whether or not there is something else. We have got another building there like the one that fell down and we don’t know why the building fell down so it’s a serious concern.”READ MORE: Fort Lauderdale Shaken Baby Case From 1984 Leads To Murder Charge.
Burkett says “I think personally that something happened under the building where the foundation support to the building gave way and it just fell in to a hole.”
The 12-story north tower was built in 1982, one year after Champlain Towers South.
“My biggest concern is that it is essentially the same building built by the same developer at the same time with the same essential plans and probably with the same materials,” says Burkett.
A cursory review days after the partial collapse of the South Tower showed nothing usual at the time but Burkett said that was not conclusive.
“Well the cursory review was just that,” he says. “Now we can do a deep dive and get to see how much steel is in those columns with ground-penetrating radar. There will probably be more going on as we bring in additional equipment for the investigation. However, let’s see what the engineer says about this first phase and the columns and the steel and the amount of steel in there.”
Burkett says “The fact-gathering process will take a few days and the analysis will probably take a few weeks.
“Fortunately we were told the building was lightly occupied and we were giving everyone the ability to leave if they are uncomfortable living in that building and they had the opportunity to find alternative housing,’ says Burkett. “I have said all along I would not be comfortable living there until we get our arms around what is going on. There is no reason to take chances. We know what we know and we know what we don’t know.”
D’Oench also spoke with immigration attorney Philip Zyne, who lives at Champlain Towers North and says he and his wife have not evacuated.READ MORE: COVID-19 Testing Sites In South Florida
Zyne said “I agree 100 percent with the Mayor that we need a thorough review. I have said from the beginning that our building is sound and I believe there have been no structural issues. But until we get a thorough review I will not be totally satisfied.”
Zyne’s sentiments were also echoed by people visiting a Memorial site for the victims at 88th Street and Harding Avenue.
That’s where CBS4 caught up with Gini Gonte, who is grieving for some close friends who she lost. Gonte said she was friends with three members of the Kleiman family. The bodies of Ana Kleiman and her son Luis and her husband Frankie were recovered more than a week ago. The bodies of Nancy and Jay Kleiman were recovered this week.
“I knew Nancy and Frankie and Jay,” she said as she fought back tears. “Jay used to pick me up every morning to take me to school.”
She also applauds the new review of the Champlain Towers north building.
“Everyone has to be inspected and this should not happen again,” she said.
Others at the memorial site agreed.
Mauricio Restrepo of Kendall said “I think many buildings need to be re-evaluated. You shouldn’t have to wait 40 years.”MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Vaccination Sites In South Florida
Krystal Perdomo of Miami said, “Every condominium should step it up and do inspections.”