Prevent Further Tragedy Due to Deteriorating Infrastructure

Target: Peter DeFazio, Chair of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Goal: Standardize building inspection system and enforce punishments for violations.

The partial collapse of a 12-story condominium complex in Florida has stunned the country. A desperate search for survivors continues, with over a hundred people still missing. The coinciding search for answers has produced even more confusion, alarm, grief, and outrage. A 2018 engineering report recently emerged, in which a firm reportedly warned of “major structural damage” to the building. This damage allegedly included cracking and corrosion of walls, columns, and beams. Despite the seeming warnings, little to nothing was apparently done to remedy the potential problems. The town even supposedly gave the all-clear to the building after the report was released. While Miami has now ordered immediate inspections of all older buildings, for families and a community in the grip of despair this action is too little, much too late.

When questions about criminal prosecutions arise for such a tragedy, often the focus rests on overt acts like bombs placed in the facility. If negligence is discovered, the narrative often shifts to lawsuits and civil liability, but why? If any individual –whether that person be the president of a company or a member of a local board—knows in advance about a hazard posed by a deteriorating building and takes no decisive action, should that individual or people not be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law? After a crisis hits should never be the time to first step up and demand action. Especially when lives are lost, these cases represent the ultimate violation of a consumer’s trust.

Sign the petition below to demand a federal standard and mandate for building inspections and stringent enforcement that holds anyone who violates this trust to account.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Representative DeFazio,

By the day, more troubling revelations about the collapse of Champlain Towers South emerge. The condo had reportedly been slowly sinking for years. Certification had not been renewed for decades, which according to city standards was apparently perfectly legal. A 2018 engineering inspection of the building noted the following: “the failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially…Several sizable [cracks in the concrete] were noted in both the topside of the entrance drive ramp and underside of the pool/entrance drive/planter slabs, which included instances with exposed, deteriorating rebar.”

The collapse may have occurred in an instant, but its roots were likely planted and growing long beforehand. No further action was seemingly taken after the report, and now the country has witnessed yet another likely preventable tragedy.  As they always do after crises, the question now turn to “Why?” and “What next?” For this community and families in flux, the next chapter will be unimaginably difficult. For the rest of the country, the definitive answer to the second question should be “accountability and action.”

This investigation should have country-wide ramifications. No more should the United States consider a patchwork of city and state standards regarding building inspection as enough. These structures are the ultimate symbols of community and shelter. They need vigilant attention and protection. If any individual or entity is unwilling to provide those safeguards, they should be held criminally accountable.

Please take this grave moment to champion a robust and comprehensive building inspection and enforcement policy. Make the legacy of this tragedy lasting and truly meaningful.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Immanuel Abednego


2 Comments

  1. Evan Jane Kriss says:

    The catastrophic building collapse in Florida wasn’t AN ALARM to ACT NOW on INFRASTRUCTURE.

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