(1) #SurfsideBuildingCollapse Thread #4

Welcome to my stream of consciousness tweeting about active emergency management events. I am an EM geek with professional and (sadly) personal experience to share.

Link to earlier Surfside threads:
(2) To recap, I was in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand on 2/22/2011 when the lack of a quality engineering report killed 115 people.

An earthquake triggered the collapse BUT obvious damage from an earlier, smaller quake had been missed by local officials.
(3) This point is highly relevant to the engineering reporting process getting underway in Florida after Surfside.

Like in Christchurch, building inspectors & officials are hastily designing a reporting system that is not sufficiently geared to find which buildings are at risk.
(4) I know the officials mean well, but the public are going to have to pressure them to work harder to be thorough so that this >160 people mass casualty event is not repeated in the coming months and years.

Please learn from our tragedy. It was just like Surfside.
(5) Once we Kiwis figured out we couldn't trust any of our multi story buildings not to pancake on us without warning, we started refusing to use them.

I literally chose different businesses to use. The ripple affect impacted the whole country's economy for a few years.
(6) You cannot afford to just keep using buildings that are similar in design, construction, and age as the building in Surfside was, without a very robust expert opinion.

The same goes for large buildings anywhere on coastal ground that may have been or is becoming unstable.
(7) This story is full of red flags for me. And probably, if you showed the information about this collapse, and then the story below, to a random sample of Kiwis, they would all be as alarmed as I am.

Sloppy work gets people killed.
(8) A city or county building dept does not have the requisite specialized engineers in-house to design a process that will give the public enough reasonable confidence to want to go back into high risk buildings right away.

The wider engineering profession must be involved.
(9) In this situation you dont "urge" property owners to obtain reports and file them within 45 days.

You REQUIRE them to comply with a process that includes a number of things.

>6 storys? No, make it 3 or 4.
>40 yrs old? No, make it 25. Or whatever the industry leaders say.
(9) Regarding the 45 day timeline, it would be better to have a two stage process, of a desktop review of say 5-7 days, then time for the full report.

Occupants need to be told that if they want to vacate for now, they can. Consult your legal advisors. Consult insurers etc etc
(10) The devil is in the detail, as the saying goes.

Asking them to

"... hire an engineer "who has designed (or) inspected at least three buildings of the same or greater height to tell us if they see any signs of distress"

seems an extremely sloppy approach to me.
(11) Look, NZ is a country of 5 million, where the right to sue for damages after personal injury or death was removed from the law 50 years ago.

Yet we could marshal our engineering, geology, and legal experts to get the job done and not lose any more lives in 1980s buildings.
(12) Buildings that, as I understand it, can come crashing down if even one of the concrete columns fails hard enough. On soil that is spitting distance from the ocean and may have had rising seawater corroding the concrete and rebar that is holding the building up.
(13) I am not an engineer, and I try to stay within my area of expertise but for crying out loud...

The next few months concerning this building type, and/or similar ground conditions, will be quite a test of the state and federal governments' skill in emergency response.
(14) In addition to the risk factors within the building, the sea water effect on concrete and rebar, and any as-yet unknown (by me) ground conditions, I just heard reports that this building was constructed on reclaimed land.

Wait, what?

(15) I watch the TV show Massive Engineering Mistakes. If this 12 story concrete building with a large footprint was built on reclaimed land, then I think that term might be euphemistic here.

Surfside is a city of ~6,000 people, with condo blocks up and down the beachfront.
(16) Florida has hastily built coastal suburbs & cities all over. Tampa is where I anticipate ground conditions to one day bite as a result of a hurricane.

Building methods are a bit like cars. The older ones may be more reliable. The 1980s were a low point, in many ways.

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More from @FreedomFriesInc

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Liberals have been way more reasonable toward me than MAGA folk have, as expected.
(2) The thread linked above is an example of those on the left who are reasonable and can be reasoned with.

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27 Jun
(1) Thread: Hot air balloon fatal crash in Albuquerque, NM.

Like #Surfside, this is another disaster type about which we New Zealanders can empathize with our American brothers & sisters.

In 2012 a crash in our ballooning region took 11 lives.

(2) TIL that in the US there is insufficient safety regulation of hot air ballooning. The same problem we have here.

I think it goes without saying that drone civil aviation is under-regulated, too.

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27 Jun
(1) Thread #3: Updates on the #SurfsideBuildingCollapse tragedy in Miami, Florida.

This short video gives you a snapshot into where the families are now at, approximately 60 hours post collapse:

(2) I'm writing threads about this building collapse for two reasons.

a) It's a tragedy that will likely end up with a death toll of >160 people. That puts it in the realm of Hurricane Katrina, Oklahoma city 1995 etc.

b) I have experience from a similar incident in 2011
(3) I'll add links to my earlier threads further down. For now I want to stress this point:

The community is nearing the point at which they will have to accept that their loved ones are not coming back.

No one wants to be the one to give the bad news, including me.
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26 Jun
(1) I have kept any discussion about the cause(s) of the #SurfsideBuildingCollapse out of my thread of ways to help those affected. (Link below.)

Having spent the past 10 years watching hundreds of New Zealand buildings being condemned for seismic risk, I am aghast. Image
(2) Source for the above:


My other thread, free of engineering talk:

(3) I also wrote about a similar tragedy on March 15, 2018, that cost 6 lives. The collapse of the pedestrian footbridge at Florida International University in West Miami:

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26 Jun
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25 Jun
(1) A time of writing there are still 159 people unaccounted for at the #SurfsideBuildingCollapse in Florida.

We who were in Christchurch, NZ on 2/22/2011 have been through something similar. 115 people died in an earthquake-caused building collapse here.

We send our love.
(2) "Pancaked" was the term used to describe the collapse of the CTV (Canterbury TV) building in 2011.

We, too, kept vigil for days hoping some more people would make it out alive.

(3) In our case, the building collapsed during a Tuesday lunch hour, when some of the building's office workers had just gone out for lunch.

The earthquake caused PTSD among thousands of people, incl. me. There were 300k people in the city, & countless others closely linked. ImageImage
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