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Florida building collapse has eerie similarities to Hard Rock

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 5:14 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2021 at 6:02 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The manner of the Florida condo collapse brought back memories of the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans a year and a half ago. But local engineers say the causes will likely be found to be for different reasons.

It is something that doesn’t happen very often but on the surface, there appears to be similarities between what happened in sunrise Florida Thursday morning, and what happened on Canal Street back in October 2019.

MORE: Hard Rock Cafe collapses on Canal St. back in 2019

Like the Hard Rock Hotel before it was totally demolished, several floors seem to have pancaked on top of the other at the Champlain towers in Miami, Florida

“Again another concrete building, this one not under construction but one that was already there, which is really awful,” said Dr. Norma Jean Mattei, with UNO’s Engineering Dept.

While the catastrophic failures are reminiscent, the experts say the causes of the collapse will likely be very different, due in part to Champlain tower’s location in the salty environment along the Atlantic ocean.

“That steel can rust and weakened it should be discernible to inspector to find that,” said Civil Engineer Nick Cammarata, PE.

Cammarata says like the Hard Rock, which appeared to collapse from the top-down, Champlain Towers collapse appeared to have begun near the ground floor of the L- shaped structure.

“Kind of where the two legs of the L meet, that part dropped like a rock from the bottom up,” said Cammarata.

Engineering experts say it’s important to learn lessons from collapses like the ones that occurred in New Orleans and in Miami so that structural deficiencies can be corrected in the future, to hopefully save lives.

“It will definitely be in the court system, and we will have a lot of experts brought in by everybody involved,” said Dr. Mattei.

“What will happen here is you’ll have a multitude of insurance companies launching investigations,” said Cammarata.

But we still don’t know exactly why the Hard Rock collapsed and definitive answers in the Miami collapse could also be elusive.

“If it’s settled in court or out of court, it could be sealed, yes,” said Mattei.

Nick Cammarata says salt water or salty air can often deteriorate balconies in coastal condos and can also get into the main structural elements of coastal buildings. He says we may learn more as various investigations get underway.

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