Surfside condo collapse

Surfside Collapse: Looking for Causes

Former Surfside mayor thinks beach project may have weakened foundation

NBC Universal, Inc.

Surfside’s beach looks like a postcard. It’s wide and inviting now, thanks in part to a $17 million dollar beach renourishment project done in 2019, but the former mayor thinks the work might have contributed to the Champlain Towers collapse. 

“And we’re not saying it was a cause or even a factor, we’re just saying it needs to be considered, when you’re gonna try to put a puzzle together, you can’t do it leaving some pieces on the ground,” said Paul Novack, who served several terms as mayor of the town. 

Novack points out that during the nine months of the project, massive, heavy dump trucks loaded with sand rumbled to the beach right next to the Champlain Towers South parking garage, day after day, by the hundred. 

“Well we know that there were concerns about vibrations, and we just know from common sense that 272 fully loaded dump trucks a day could cause vibration,” Novack said. 

Of course, the question is could the trucks have caused enough vibration to damage the building’s foundation? 

“Well I believe they’re on the low end of the totem pole,” said Allyn Kilsheimer, a structural engineer hired by the Town of Surfside to investigate the building’s failure. 

He said other causes are more likely, however, he would not rule out the trucks-rumbling-by theory. 

“We certainly, it’s on our list of things to evaluate, the Army Corps of Engineers, when they were doing that work, I believe had seismographs put all around when they were doing that work, we now have access to that information,” Kilsheimer said. 

Kilsheimer’s team has been denied access to the site by the county. 

The only agency actually investigating the collapse right now is NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

“They don’t rule anything out, they go into it with an open mind, they will look at everything that might have contributed, and they will continue until they can come up with a likely cause, as long as it takes," said a spokesperson for NIST, Jennifer Huergo.

“I think everybody is waiting for answers and the only way we’re going to get a good, solid reliable answer is if all potential factors are considered,” said Novack.

Huergo said NIST will investigate every possible contributing factor, but it will likely take years to reach conclusions. 

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