August 4, 2021

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Surfside Condo Board President Warned Residents of Worsening Damage in April – The New York Times

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Less than three months before the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo complex in Surfside, Fla., the president of the condominium association warned in a letter that the damage in the building had “gotten significantly worse” since it was highlighted in a 2018 inspection.

The letter was written to residents by Jean Wodnicki, president of the association’s board of directors, explaining why a list of extensive construction projects were worth a $15 million special assessment that residents were being asked to pay.

Along with the 2018 inspection, which warned of “major structural damage,” the letter, a copy of which The New York Times obtained, adds to a growing body of evidence that engineers had raised alarms about serious flaws in the building months and even years before the catastrophic building failure, which killed 11 people and left 150 unaccounted for.

Ms. Wodnicki could not immediately be reached for comment.

That 2018 inspection warned that concrete damage would “multiply exponentially” in the coming years, Ms. Wodnicki wrote in the letter, which was first reported by USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. The engineer who prepared that initial report, Frank Morabito, carried out “a much more detailed survey of the property” and found signs that this acceleration was indeed already happening. “When you can visually see the concrete spalling (cracking), that means that the rebar holding it together is rusting and deteriorating beneath the surface,” Ms. Wodnicki wrote.

She explained that these signs of growing damage were why the estimated costs of repair had jumped by some 60 percent since that 2018 inspection. “The concrete deterioration is accelerating. The roof situation got much worse,” she wrote adding: “New problems have been identified.”

“A lot of this work could have been done or planned for in years gone by,” she wrote in the letter. “But this is where we are now.”

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