Florida governor DeSantis won’t commit to statewide condo checks and says Surfside tower ‘had problems from start’

‘I don’t think the state’s ever going to quite be the same,’ governor says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 07 July 2021 21:38 BST

Related video: Canadian woman identified among victims of Florida condo collapse

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wouldn’t commit to any actions on the state level to address worries about ageing condo towers, saying that condominiums are “kind of a dime a dozen, particularly in southern Florida” and that the collapsed Champlain Towers South “had problems from the start”.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr DeSantis wouldn’t say if he supported having older buildings around the state be recertified to reassure residents that they are safe following the deadly collapse of the 12-story tower in Surfside north of Miami Beach, The Miami Herald reported.

The building was in the process of its recertification when it collapsed at 1.20am on 24 June. The process takes place every 40 years, but it’s only required in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Experts argue the collapse shows inadequacies in the certification process and state legislators, structural engineers, and insurance agents have indicated that the state laws that apply to high rises in coastal areas are due for an update.

“We obviously want to be able to identify why did this happen,’‘ Mr DeSantis said. “Is this something that was unique to this building? Is it something that was unique to the person that maybe developed it – because obviously there are sister properties? Is it something that buildings of that age, that would have implications beyond that whether southern Florida or the entire state of Florida? I think we need to get those definitive answers.”

Mr DeSantis was then asked about the impact that the collapse may have on the condo market as those interested in buying a condo may now hesitate.

“I can just say, just having talked with people who’ve been on the scene — people who’ve done stuff — I think this building had problems from the start, let’s just put it that way,’‘ he said.

“I wouldn’t jump to conclusions about it but, at the same time, if there is something identified that would have implications broader than Champlain Towers, then obviously we’re going to take that and act as appropriate,” he added.

Several coastal cities have launched their own reviews of older buildings following the collapse. The city of North Miami Beach issued an evacuation order on Friday for one building not considered to be safe. Firefighters ordered residents to leave a low-rise condo building in Miami Beach on Saturday after a building inspector noted a flooring system failure and damage to outside walls.

Democratic state Senator Jason Pizzo said re-inspections should include more aspects, in particular for buildings close to the shore and in flood zones. The scrutiny of coastal condominiums should be increased, he argued.

Mr DeSantis said on Wednesday that the collapse would be “a deep wound for a long time”.

“But as tragic as it’s been, I think the outpouring of support has shown a lot of great parts of our community,” he added.

“I don’t think the state’s ever going to quite be the same. But I’ll tell you, you never want to go through the tragedies but those folks there, you know, they are leaving a very impressive legacy,” he said of the rescue teams.

“And for those who are missing, who have been identified as being deceased, the impact that they’ve had, not just on Florida but through folks all across the country and the world, has really been profound,” Mr DeSantis concluded.

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