- A Florida official told residents of Champlain Towers in 2018 the building was safe, records say.
- This was despite a concerning engineers’ report a month earlier.
- The building partially collapsed on Thursday. Nine people are reported dead so far, and 152 missing.
Meeting minutes from 2018 say a local official told residents of the collapsed Champlain Towers that the building was in good condition, despite a recent report that indicated major problems, NPR reported.
A large portion of the 12-story building in Surfside, Miami-Dade County, collapsed on June 24.
As of Sunday night local time, nine people were confirmed dead and another 152 unaccounted for, according to the Miami Herald. Rescuers said they would keep looking for more victims.
NPR obtained the 2018 meeting minutes appearing to show concerns about the building being downplayed. Despite a concerning engineering report, residents were put at ease by local building official Rosendo Prieto.
The report, released by Morabito consultants on October 8 2018, detailed issues with the building including “major structural damage” to the concrete below the pool deck and entrance drive.
The minutes from Prieto’s meeting with Champlain Tower South Condominium Association a month later said Prieto assured them the building is “in very good shape,” NPR reported.
“Structural engineer report was reviewed by Mr. Prieto,” the outlet reports the minutes as recording. “It appears the building is in very good shape.”
Town officials told NPR that Prieto no longer works for Surfside. Insider could not immediately reach Prieto for comment, but he told the Miami Herald on Saturday – prior to NPR’s reporting on the November meeting – that he didn’t recall getting the engineering report.
He also told the paper that he was not aware that the town had received the report. However, in an email released by the town of Surfside, dated November 13, Prieto had been forwarded the report. The sender was one of the condo’s board members, according to the Miami Herald.
The meeting with the building’s association took place two days later, according to NPR.
The released documents also include an email from Prieto to the then-town manager following the meeting, saying it “went very well” and that “the response was very positive from everyone in the room.” It made no mention of the engineering report.
One survivor of the collapse, 10th-floor resident Susana Alvarez, said she was at the meeting.
She told NPR: “The town of Surfside said to us that the building was not in bad shape … That is what they said, OK?”
She also said: “No one ever, ever, ever told us that the building was in such bad shape – no one, no one.”
Morabito Consultants released a statement Saturday saying they were “deeply troubled” by the collapse. Their report had “detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete, which required repairs to ensure the safety of the residents and the public,” the statement said.
The 2018 report is among several factors being scrutinized in the wake of the collapse.
In 2015, the building was part of a lawsuit in which one resident complained that the outer walls were not being properly maintained. It is unclear whether the issues in that lawsuit were related to Thursday’s collapse.
In 2020, a study was published indicating that the land beneath the building was sinking, although its author said that this would probably not have been the sole cause of the collapse.
A spokesperson for the town did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.