Surfside condo attorney says it’s too early to tell what went wrong

Building was just starting work on roof as part of mandatory 40-year inspection.

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Rabbi Sholom Lipskar and his daughter Devorah say several members of their synagogue The Shul remain unaccounted for after Thursday’s Champlain Towers South condo collapse.

“There are very few words that could give anybody consolation because you are dealing with an unimaginable, horrific tragedy that struck in the middle of the night,” the rabbi said

Surfside Town Commissioner Eliana Salzhauer said the community is reeling from what happened and “we need to take a look at the bones of our buildings.”

She says the building that partially collapsed this morning had started the mandatory 40-year recertification process, where engineers perform checks like structural inspections on buildings over 40 years old.

“I am told it was proceeding fine and they were redoing the roof and the building inspector had been out there recently. I was told it was even yesterday,” Salzhauer said.

“The engineer has been working for many months to develop the specifications to work with the city,” said Kenneth Direktor, an attorney for Champlain Towers South Condominium Association, Inc. “What was in its infancy was the actual construction, which had not started with the sole exception that they had already begun on the roof.”

He added: “I don’t think we’re anywhere near a point where we can develop an understanding of what caused this or find any correlation between the 40-year certification and what happened to this building.”

Local 10 News checked in with state regulators who oversee condo associations and they tell us the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes “does not have citations against the license holder (The Champlain Towers Condo Association), nor has it taken any administrative action against the license holder.”

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."