MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Officials displaced hundreds of apartment building residents over safety concerns Friday and Saturday in Miami-Dade County.
Tanbeer Mahmood was displaced from an apartment in a Miami Beach property that records show was built in 1925. He said the city official’s decision to evacuate didn’t surprise him.
“We’ve been just going through this struggle for a while,” Mahmood said about the building’s maintenance.
The tragic June 24th partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside prompted building officials in Miami-Dade County to increase audits and inspections of residential properties.
There has been hypervigilance on buildings that are undergoing the recertification process that is required every 40 years. Champlain Towers South was undergoing the process when 12 floors turned into pancaked concrete while residents were sleeping.
The tragedy also caused a ripple effect among the residents of condominium buildings who had maintenance concerns. Some demanded officials inspect their properties. In some cases, officials determined the concerns were unfounded. In others, officials evacuated buildings.
On Friday, about 300 residents of Crestview Towers at 2025 NE 164 St., had hours to evacuate 156 units before midnight in North Miami Beach. City officials said an engineers’ Jan. 11 report warned of safety concerns.
On Saturday, the residents of a two-story building at 1619 Lenox Ave., also had hours to evacuate 24 units in South Beach. Officials said there was a flooring system failure and excessive deflection of an exterior wall.
“Now we’re kicked out and we don’t know what to do ... Apparently, it’s like sinking,” Mahmood’s neighbor Derek Williams said Saturday.
The Miami-Dade Homeless Trust and the American Red Cross were assisting the displaced who had nowhere to go. There was a temporary shelter at Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition at University Park.
“One of those families that stayed down there has a four-month-old and a 1-year-old,” said Ron Book, chairman of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, about a decision to transfer families to Rodeway Inn.
In Surfside, some of the residents of the Champlain Towers North and East buildings volunteered to evacuate.
There was a demolition Sunday night of what was left standing of Champlain South at 8777 Collins Ave. The search-and-rescue operation continued Monday morning. The official death toll was at 27 on Monday evening and 118 remained unaccounted for.
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Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.