Florida Officials Rush to Demolish Rest of Surfside Condo Before Storm

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U.S.|The rest of the Surfside condo will be demolished within days, in a rush to beat a storm, officials say.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/03/us/surfside-condo-collapse-demolish-desantis.html

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Remaining Portion of Surfside Condo to Be Demolished Within Days

Officials in Florida said they planned to quickly demolish the section of Champlain Towers South that was still standing to avoid complications from Tropical Storm Elsa, which could reach the state as early as Monday.

We have a building here in Surfside that is tottering, it is structurally unsound, and although the eye of this storm is not likely to pass over this direction, you could feel gusts in this area. We spoke with both County Mayor Cava and City Mayor Burkett’s teams, who made the decision to pursue the demolition for the building. I’m supportive of it. I think it’s the right thing to do. At the end of the day, that building is too unsafe to let people go back in. I know there’s a lot of people who were able to get out, fortunately, who have things there. We’re very sensitive to that, but I don’t think there’s any way you could let somebody go up in that building. This will protect our search and rescue teams, because we don’t know when it could fall over. And, of course, with these gusts, potentially, you know, that would create a really severe hazard. So our mission is to expedite it as soon as possible. Kevin Guthrie reports to me that once everything is ready to go, that it can be brought down within 36 hours. As we continue to search through the night, our teams recovered two additional victims. The number of confirmed victims now stands at 24. That’s 188 accounted for and 124 unaccounted for. The numbers are fluid and will continue to change, as we’ve told you repeatedly. As the governor mentioned, we’re doing everything we can to move forward with demolition. We did speak to the families this morning, both the survivors, who still have their belongings in that tower, and to the family members who are waiting for the search and rescue to continue. So they have all been informed and are aware.

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Officials in Florida said they planned to quickly demolish the section of Champlain Towers South that was still standing to avoid complications from Tropical Storm Elsa, which could reach the state as early as Monday.CreditCredit...Angel Valentin for The New York Times

Florida officials said on Saturday that they were rushing to demolish the part of Champlain Towers South that is still standing because of worries that the partially collapsed structure would not withstand the powerful winds of an approaching tropical storm.

“It’s structurally unsound,” Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said of the building during a morning news briefing.

Officials said preparations for the demolition could be completed within roughly 36 hours, allowing for the building to be brought down before Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to reach South Florida.

Demolition could begin as early as Sunday, according to Mayor Charles W. Burkett of Surfside.

Mr. DeSantis acknowledged the added hardship the demolition would create for families who had fled the collapse, leaving behind most of their possessions. But he said the danger the building posed left no other option.

“At the end of the day, that building is too unsafe to let people go back in,” the governor said. “I know there’s a lot of people who were able to get out, fortunately, who have things there. We’re very sensitive to that. But I don’t think that there’s any way you could let someone go back up into that building given the shape that it’s in now.”

Mr. DeSantis said that while Surfside was not expected to bear the brunt of the storm, the city could still experience strong winds and heavy rain. Elsa was downgraded to a tropical storm from a Category 1 hurricane as it battered Caribbean islands. It could reach Florida as early as Monday, causing flooding and possible tornadoes.

Officials said a Maryland-based contractor, Controlled Demolition Inc., would use explosives to bring the remainder of the building down, and that the demolition would cause the “most minimal interruption” of search and rescue work at the site.That work halted temporarily at 4 p.m. Saturday because of preparations for demolition, officials announced.

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