Search and rescue teams are searching for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South apartment building on June 27 in Surfside, Florida. Giorgio Viera / AFP / Getty Images
A Surfside City official assured residents of Champlain Towers South at a meeting in November 2018 that their building was “in very good condition,” NPR reported on Sunday – although the official issued a warning of “significant structural damage” to Tower 2 had received days earlier, according to emails released by the city and verified by CNN.
Rosendo Prieto, who was working as the city’s construction clerk at the time, spoke at a meeting of the tower’s condominium association more than two years before the building collapsed, according to NPR.
“The civil engineering report was checked by Mr. Prieto,” says the protocol cited by NPR in an obvious reference to a report by civil engineer Frank Morabito from 2018, which detailed problems including cracked and rotting concrete in the parking garage under the tower. “It seems that the building is in very good shape,” the minutes said, according to the NPR.
A resident of the condominium, Susana Alvarez, told NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday that she attended the November 15 meeting and remembered a city representative who said, “The building was not in bad shape.”
Emails released by the city confirm that Prieto attended the meeting. Prieto did not respond to requests from CNN for comment.
Two days before the meeting, on November 13, 2018, a member of the condominium council, Mara Chouela, sent Prieto a copy of the civil engineer’s report, according to an email the city posted on Saturday.
And the day after the meeting, Prieto sent another email to Guillermo Olmedillo, the former city manager, saying the condominium’s board meeting “went very well”.
“The response has been very positive from everyone in the room,” wrote Prieto in the November 16 email posted by the city on Sunday evening. “All major concerns related to their forty year recertification process have been addressed.”
He wrote that the building – which was built in 1981 – didn’t have to start recertification until 2021, “but they decided to start the process early, which I fully support and hope that this trend will be followed by other properties. “.”
It’s unclear how much work was done to fix the building before it collapsed – or whether the issues identified in the 2018 report contributed to the disaster. Morabito Consultants, the engineering firm that produced the report, said in a statement Saturday that the condominium association hired it in June 2020 to prepare plans for the 40-year restoration and that “roof repairs are underway but concrete refurbishment is still going on have not started “. “When the building collapsed.
Prieto no longer works for Surfside and is currently serving as the temporary construction clerk for Doral, another town in the Miami-Dade county, according to the Doral website and a county document.