Pool contractor photographed damage in Florida building 36 hours before collapse

Pool contractor photographed damage in Florida building 36 hours before collapse

A pool contractor photographed damage to the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida, 36 hours before half of it collapsed.

The man, who asked not to be named in a Monday report published by the Miami Herald, visited the building to put a bid together for cosmetic changes to the pool and updates to its equipment.

A large portion of the 40-year-old building collapsed on Thursday. Eleven people are confirmed dead, and 150 are unaccounted for after the partial collapse, local officials said Monday evening.

The contractor said he observed “standing water all over” the underground parking garage.

“He thought it was waterproofing issues,” the contractor said of a building staff member who showed him around. “I thought to myself, ‘That’s not normal.'”

South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look through rubble for survivors at the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Fla., Monday, June 28, 2021. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP)

The man said the deepest puddle of standing water he observed was located around parking space 78, which, according to the Florida outlet, is directly under the portion of the pool deck where engineer Frank Morabito said there was a “major error” in the spot’s original design in 2018. He noted the flaw was allowing water intrusion that was causing significant damage to the concrete slabs laid below.

The contractor said he did not photograph the water because he was there to observe the pool itself, not what was underneath it.

In the pool equipment room, located in the garage but away from space 78, the contractor snapped a photo of exposed and corroding rebar.

“I wonder if this was going on in other parts of the building and caused this collapse,” the contractor said.

“You can see extensive corrosion of the rebars at the bottom of the beam. That is very serious,” said Mohammad Ehsani, an engineer and concrete restoration expert. “If the condition of the beam in the pool guy’s photo is something that was also happening under the building, that is a really major concern.”

Ehsani warned it was possible not all of the beams in the building were similarly damaged, noting the harsh chemicals the pool equipment room could have been exposed to. But he said if the damage was more widespread, it “absolutely” could have contributed to the building’s collapse.

“In these buildings that are asymmetrical like this one, there is a possibility that if you have one part of the building that collapses, the building does some turning and twisting,” he added. “In this case, it is possible that a failure any place in this building could cause distortion to the frame of the building and could cause a collapse in any of the areas, not just adjacent [to the failure].”

Maxwell Marcucci, a representative for the Champlain Towers South condo association, declined to comment on what the pool contractor noticed when reached for the report.

Author: John Hanno

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Bogan High School. Worked in Alaska after the earthquake. Joined U.S. Army at 17. Sergeant, B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 84th Artillery, 7th Army. Member of 12 different unions, including 4 different locals of the I.B.E.W. Worked for fortune 50, 100 and 200 companies as an industrial electrician, electrical/electronic technician.

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