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Surfside condo building was going through 40-year recertification before collapse

Engineers had been looking at it, attorney says
Building Collapse Miami
Posted at 11:15 PM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 23:16:34-04

SURFSIDE, Fla. (WPTV) -- The 40-year-old Surfside, Florida, building that partially collapsed early Thursday morning was scheduled to undergo a recertification process this year.

Dozens of association members who live in the Champlain South Towers condominium are still unaccounted for.

The attorney representing the association said the recertification was set to occur, but work had not begun yet.

Staring at the rubble of what's left of the northeast side of the Champlain South Towers Condominium, many families are still desperate to hear from their loved ones.

"The first and most important thing I want to say, they’re going to be a lot of questions, and there aren't many answers yet, but today and tomorrow and the next few days are first and foremost about accounting for the residents who have not yet been found," said Ken Direktor, the attorney representing Champlain South Towers Association.

Ken Direktor, the attorney representing Champlain South Towers Association
Ken Direktor explains the recertification that was set to occur on the building.

The condo association is made up of residents who govern the board that operates the association and resident-owned building.

Recently, Direktor, a shareholder with Becker and Poliakoff law firm, said the association hired an engineer to go through the 40-year recertification program required by the local government.

"The engineering plans, to my knowledge, were virtually finished, and the way a 40-year certification works is the engineer develops the plans and specs based on upon what he or she finds upon inspection, and then works with the local building officials to make sure they accept the plans the engineer has developed," Direktor said.

The town of Surfside's building department website says the professional engineer hired to perform electrical and structural inspections on the building would have to complete a report for the town to review and approve.

"The building has had engineers looking at it for months, and obviously there was no indication that something like this was forthcoming," Direktor said.

Surfside Building Collapse
Household items and debris dangle from a partially collapsed multistory beachfront condo, Thursday, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla.

WPTV has requested recent inspections and permits pulled for the building from the town of Surfside.

Direktor said he has not had any contact with the engineer or town officials as of yet.

"My focus today has been periodically reaching out to the association president and the manager to see what they need and what we can do for them," Direktor said.

WPTV called and left messages for the professional engineering company that Direktor said the association contracted for the recertification program.

It is unclear if the engineer had submitted a completed inspection report to the Surfside building department.

Those are among the unanswered questions as families still await news of their missing loved ones.

This story originally reported by Michelle Quesada on WPTV.com.