Ex-Surfside official: No surprise another building evacuated

[CUOMO]

(NewsNation) — It came as no surprise to Eliana Salzhauer that residents of a condominium building in Miami Beach were evacuated Thursday. After all, a condo building on the same street fell to the ground a year ago.

People living in the Port Royale complex in Miami Beach had to abruptly pack up Thursday after engineers discovered structural damage in a main support beam, which had been flagged for repair 10 months ago. The beam has since shifted and a crack in it expanded.

A report from the building’s structural engineer prompted the evacuation notice of the 164-unit structure at 6969 Collins Ave., which is in the process of undergoing a 50-year recertification.

The site of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida, that collapsed in June 2021 and killed 98 people is also on Collins Avenue, about 1.3 miles from the Port Royale.

Salzhauer, a former Surfside commissioner, has been warning that a collapse like the one in Surfside could happen again because of inaction on structural problems and continued construction despite risks.

“This was predictable. We all saw this coming … and we’re going to see more of this,” Salzhaur said Friday on “CUOMO.” “What’s unfortunate is the short notice the people were given. Clearly there were problems for months, for years even, in this building that were ignored.”

Engineers have recommended additional “shoring” to reinforce areas needing repair be installed in the Port Royale’s garage to support a damaged beam. Officials said they expected the reinforcement to be in place within 10 days, the Miami Herald reported.

Marash Markaj bought a unit at Port Royale almost seven years ago and initially didn’t pay any mind to the damage he noticed in the parking garage. That changed after the Surfside collapse, which also suffered structural damage in the underground parking garage, according to preliminary assessments.

“I got very nervous,” Markaj said. “I was thinking ‘oh my God, this is almost the same as Surfside.'”

Markaj took photos of the damage and sent it to building management and city officials to no avail. A husband and father of two kids, Markaj said he fears moving back into Port Royale, and likely won’t, even if it means a financial loss.

“Our lives are more important,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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