Residents of Champlain Towers North are terrified after the collapse of their condominiums sister tower. A 71-year-old resident, Philip Zyne, noticed a crack in the parking lot below his balcony.

“I would’ve never noticed that if this hadn’t happened,” Mr. Zyne said. He normally would not have given it a moments thought, if he hadn’t lived in the sister tower of the recently collapsed Champlain Tower South.

Can you stay, or should you leave? This is the question on many minds of South Floridians who live near the area. Especially those in older, beachfront buildings that face outdoor conditions like salty air, rising seas, and aging concrete. Mayor Charles W. Burkett of Surfside said he was considering asking residents of Champlain Towers North to voluntarily evacuate as a precaution.

Burkett is working to get an emergency inspection of Champlain Towers North, which was constructed the same year and by the same developer as the crumbled 12-story Champlain Towers South. Until that inspection occurs, he cannot guarantee the safety of the building’s residents.

$5 million lawsuit filed for victims of the Champlain Towers South collapse. Victims wondering how much they are entitled to.
There is a $5 million lawsuit filed for victims of the Champlain Towers South collapse. Victims wondering how much they are entitled to.

“I know that the identical building collapsed for an inexplicable reason,” Burkett said. “Buildings in the United States do not just fall down … Something very, very wrong was going on at that building and we need to find out.”

The mayor said he’d “be gone” if he were living in the Champlain Towers North building. But where would residents go, and how could they afford it? Mayor Burkett has said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to pay for temporary lodging for residents who agree to leave. He said it’s still undetermined where they would stay.

During a news briefing late Saturday, he said that a city official has done a cursory review of the nearby Champlain Towers North and Champlain Towers East buildings. But that the official “didn’t find anything out of the ordinary.”

So far there have been few people rescued from the rubble after the collapse of the sister building of Champlain Towers North in Surfside. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

The south tower, which partially collapsed early Thursday morning, had 136 units, while the north tower has 111 units, records show. Both were built in 1981. Buildings nearing their 40-year review are also being audited to make sure they’re safe. The news followed word of a 2018 engineering report that showed the building had “major structural damage” to a concrete slab below its pool deck that needed extensive repairs. It was part of a series of documents released by the city of Surfside. The damage report included the waterproofing under the pool deck, which had been improperly laid flat instead of sloped, preventing water from draining.

It is uncertain if any of the damage was responsible for the collapse. However, the report from the firm of Morabito Consulting did not warn of imminent danger from the damage. A day after the Champlain Towers South condominium collapsed, a condo was posted for sale in one of its sister towers. Specifically, the East Tower, which is slightly newer than the sister towers. Realtor Siarhei Zavadski says the timing was a terrible coincidence, and after receiving hate messages he took down the listing. 

If you are a Florida resident in the Surfside area, especially if you are living in the North Champlain Tower, you may want to consider temporarily relocating until officials can guarantee the safety of your home.