Ex-maintenance manager had concerns before Florida condo collapse

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A former maintenance manager for the Florida condo tower that collapsed last week said he had raised concerns about ocean water regularly inundating the parking garage — and that the flooding struck him as “just not normal.”

William Espinosa, who oversaw the maintenance staff of the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside, recalled having to often use pumps to get rid of potentially corrosive seawater seeping into the underground parking garage, news station WFOR reported.

“Any time that we had high tides away from the ordinary, any King Tide or anything like that, we would have a lot of saltwater come in through the bottom of the foundation,” Espinosa told the outlet.

“But it was so much water, all the time, that the pumps never could keep up with it.”

Espinosa, who worked there from 1995 to 2000, said he brought his concerns to the managers of the building, but they told him not to be concerned about the issue.

“They said that has always been going on for years,” he said, adding he was instructed to continue using the pumps.

“But I go, `You know, that’s it’s endless. Every month we had a problem with this.’ And I go, ‘This is just not normal. I mean, this is just too much water.’”

Espinosa said he fretted about the damage potentially caused by the flooding.

“The water would just basically sit there and then it would just seep downward,” Espinosa said. “It would just go away after a while. And I would think, where does that water go? Because it had to go in through somewhere. I’m talking about a foot, sometimes two feet of water in the bottom of the parking lot, the whole parking lot.”

Experts said water, particularly seawater, can be extremely corrosive to concrete, WFOR reported. The salt crystals slowly erode the concrete, eventually damaging the steel and rebar — which then develop rust and expand, causing cracks in the structure.

No cause has been identified in the condo disaster that has left at least nine dead and 156 unaccounted for, but the building was flagged as having “major structural damage” in 2018.

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