Hurricane winds may make Surfside constructing construction collapse additional, structural engineer warns

The potential impact of hurricane winds on the search-and-rescue operations at the collapsed Surfside, Florida condominium could make the building structure collapse further, structural engineer Richard Slider warned Friday.

“These systems or the concrete columns and slabs that are there now, are already unstable, to a certain extent,” Slider told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” in an interview. “When wind gets impacted upon this, if it does come to the area, obviously, that adds another level of impact and potentially greater ability for the structure to collapse further.”

Elsa grew in the Caribbean to become the season’s first hurricane. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis raised concerns Friday that the storm could strike South Florida and threaten to halt rescue operations and potentially topple portions of the building that have not collapsed yet.

“It is possible that [Surfside] area could see tropical storm force winds,” DeSantis said. “Our Department of Emergency Management is assuming that that will happen and making the necessary preparations to be able to protect a lot of the equipment. You could potentially have an event with the building as well.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press conference Friday evening that she has signed an emergency order authorizing the demolition of the partially collapsed 12-story condominium building.

Slider said he agrees with tearing down what’s left of the building, and that it’s not practical to attempt repairing what’s left of the structure. 

“One of the issues that we have in Florida, is obviously hurricanes, the windows and doors would have to be upgraded,” said Slider, who is president at Slider Engineering Group Structural and Forensic Engineering. “If you chose to repair it, which I don’t believe is a viable option, you would have to upgrade, and by the time you got through with that, economically, I don’t believe it would be feasible.”

As of Friday evening, 22 people are confirmed dead, and 126 others remain unaccounted for.

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