Within days after the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers condominium building in Surfside, Florida, during a confidential morning briefing with first responders and local officials, state officials asked Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava (D) when the demolition of the remainder of the building would occur.
According to a source close to the rescue effort, state officials asked Mayor Cava after a chorus of first responders began speaking out about how unsafe the building was, and argued that it should be brought down as soon as possible.
The source says “Cava is dragging her feet,” adding that there is now talk that it can take as long as six weeks for the demolition.
"The emergency response teams, Governor DeSantis, FEMA, and President Biden have consistently offered to provide any state or federal resources including engineers, clean up crews, and any other resources needed to safely and efficiently remove the remaining building to continue search and rescue efforts safely and efficiently,” said the source.
Mayor Cava has said that the building would likely be torn down but has yet to make the final decision to do so. It’s been no less than 4 days since Cava first said that she would make the decision about tearing the remainder of the building down.
“We are proceeding with the likely demolition of the building while the search and rescue continues as a top priority,” said Cava during the daily press conference on Thursday. “This is a decision that we need to make extremely carefully and methodically as we consider all the possible impacts to the pile of debris and to our search and rescue operation.”
But just as it seemed that Cava was going to pull the trigger on demolishing the building, she appears to be hedging again.
In Friday’s press conference, Cava echoed what our source said about it taking a couple of weeks to tear down the building, saying that it “takes weeks to demolish a building.”
"We’re proceeding with our evaluation of all of the factors all of the time and the impacts related to the demolition of the building while the search and rescue continues as our top priority,” added Cava. “And it is important to stress as our engineer explained yesterday evening that a demolition cannot be done overnight. In fact, it takes weeks to demolish a building.
Cava and local officials may not have the time they need to tear down a building. With a looming Hurricane Elsa churning in the Caribbean that meteorologists suspect could directly impact Florida, and with the fact that there have been 6 to 12 inches of movement with the remaining structure, a decision may need to demolish may need to be made as soon as tonight.
Florida CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis recently said that the demolition of the building “might be sooner than we expected.”