Fla. Building's President Warned of Concrete Issues Months Before Condo Collapse
"A lot of this work could have been done or planned for in years gone by," Jean Wodnicki wrote in an April letter. "But this is where we are now."
Just two months before it collapsed, the president of the Champlain South Towers condo association warned residents that the deterioration of the building's concrete was "accelerating" — and needed to be dealt with quickly.
Jean Wodnicki shared a letter with residents on April 9, just weeks before the 12-story building in Surfside, Florida collapsed, killing at least 11 people and leaving 150 missing, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In the letter, which was obtained by the WSJ, Wodnicki outlined the price of a proposed special assessment that would cost residents $15 million, but was necessary, as the building's condition had only worsened since a 2018 inspection.
The letter said that Frank Morabito, an engineer, had been hired in 2018 to do an inspection and "provide an initial estimate of what would be required" in terms of the upcoming 40-year inspection, which is required by law.
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"Among other things, that estimate indicated that the concrete damage observed would begin to multiply exponentially over the years, and indeed the observable damage such as in the garage has gotten significantly worse since the initial inspection," Wodnicki wrote, per the letter in the WSJ report. "When you can visually see the concrete spalling (cracking), that means that the rebar holding it together is rusting and deteriorating beneath the surface."
Though the initial estimate was $9.13 million, Wodnicki explained that costs had gone up, as the deterioration of the concrete was "accelerating," and other structural problems within the building also needed to be addressed.
"The roof situation got much worse, so extensive roof repairs had to be incorporated," she wrote. "Other previously identified projects have been rolled under the main project. New problems have been identified."
Wodnicki wrote much of the work that needed to be done was underground, and would require workers to "pull up almost the entire ground level of the lot to access the areas that require repair," including the pool deck, the entry drive and ground level parking.
"A lot of this work could have been done or planned for in years gone by," Wodnicki wrote in the letter. "But this is where we are now."
Donna DiMaggio Berger, an attorney for the condo association, previously told the WSJ that Morabito's report from 2018 was not out of the ordinary.
"Concrete spalling, rebar deterioration—these are not unusual events when you have buildings exposed to corrosive conditions," said Berger, who did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
First responders in Surfside are still combing through the rubble in the hopes of finding survivors amid the pancaked building, which collapsed early Thursday morning.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Tuesday morning that all 11 families of identified victims have been notified, and that President Joe Biden would be visiting Surfside on Thursday to visit with affected families and first responders.