TEQUESTA, Fla. — Residents in Tequesta remain out of their homes Thursday until emergency repairs are made to a residential building that was evacuated three weeks ago. Those repairs could take time.
WPTV is taking a closer look at the damage and speaking with a structural engineer who said this is very serious and did not happen overnight.
New close-up images show concrete separating and the severe cracking on columns at Tequesta Cove, an apartment building on the Intracoastal, now evacuated and deemed unsafe.
"This would have been an issue that manifested over time," said Ben Messerschmidt, a forensics engineer who investigates structural defects and corrosion.
He analyzed the photos.
"You'll notice that you have it vertically and also coming in towards the center of the column," Messerschmidt said.
He said the damage likely started as hair-line cracks and expanded over time with South Florida's elements.
"The more salt air, the wetting and drying effects of humidity, that moisture once it gets into that hair-line crack is going to expand that crack," Messerschmidt said.
People living in the building were evacuated three weeks ago after engineers found significant deterioration and cracking on the building's columns.
"They immediately took action to evacuate the residents. Their well-being and safety was a top priority at that point," said Mayor Molly Young.
Now emergency work is underway as engineers take a comprehensive look at the whole building.
Safety measures were discussed in Palm Beach County in the wake of the Surfside Building collapse, but talks were paused, wanting the state to take the lead on building inspection rules.
But now, nearly 10 months later, condo reform legislation has still not been passed at the state level.
Tequesta's mayor said building officials in Palm Beach County are now regrouping and restarting those conversations about building recertifications.
"I think it's going to be an important process and I really look forward to working with the county and building officials for a potential recertification process," Young said.
We're told that meeting is set for Monday and the goal is to share information to potentially propose an up-to-date building safety inspection program.