Collapse: Disaster in Surfside

Collapse: Disaster in Surfside

In the middle of the night on June 24, 2021, a 12-story section of the Champlain Towers South condominium complex roared to the ground, killing 98 people in Surfside, Florida. Collapse: Disaster in Surfside is a 12-part investigative and narrative reporting project featuring the Pulitzer-Prize-winning coverage of the Miami Herald in collaboration with Treefort Media. We’re talking with survivors, witnesses, experts, first responders, and journalists, to get the whole story of Surfside. How the building went up, and why it went down. We’re piecing together 911 calls, police body camera recordings, surveillance footage, and forensic engineers digging deep into the evidence to find the truth. What went wrong? Who’s going to be held accountable? Could something like Surfside happen again? We’re looking for answers. And we’re meeting the people who called it home. We’re getting the stories of the lives lived and lost there. All this and more through the reporting of the Miami Herald, its partners, and host Paul Beban.

Episodes

November 18, 2021 2 min

In the middle of the night on June 24, 2021, a 12-story section of the Champlain Towers South condominium complex roared to the ground, killing 98 people in Surfside, Florida. 

Collapse: Disaster in Surfside is a 12-part investigative and narrative reporting project; a co-production of the Miami Herald and Treefort Media. 

We’re talking with survivors, witnesses, experts, first responders, and journalists, to get the whole story of S...

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Buildings don’t just fall, for no reason, in the middle of the night. But, at 1:22 am on June 24, 2021, a 12-story wing of the Champlain Towers South condo partially pancaked to the ground — a catastrophe so rare, it’s difficult to find an equivalent in modern history. Collapse: Disaster in Surfside investigates whether the tower was doomed from the moment it was built, who is potentially to blame, and what’s being done to make sur...

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March 16, 2022 41 min

For many residents of Champlain Towers South, life or death hinged on where their apartments were located: a few feet down the hallway made the difference. In the second episode of Collapse: Disaster in Surfside, we remain at the scene. The reality of the tragedy is beginning to sink in as search and rescue teams, journalists and the world struggle to comprehend how and why this apartment building filled with sleeping families was ...

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March 23, 2022 41 min

Behind closed doors in the “family reunification center,” an emotional scene plays out in the days following the collapse. The third episode of Collapse: Disaster in Surfside takes us inside the large room at the Grand Beach Hotel that is away from the media frenzy, but not far from where Champlain Towers South once stood. Over the next two weeks, first responders from Miami Dade Fire Rescue update the loved ones of those still mis...

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March 30, 2022 37 min

Despite round-the-clock search teams since the collapse of Champlain Towers South, there have not been any signs of life from the rubble. Conditions in the debris are getting more difficult and dangerous with each passing day. In the fourth episode of Collapse: Disaster in Surfside we’re still in the private briefing room as families wait in anguish for word of their loved ones. The heartbreaking shift from search and rescue to sea...

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April 6, 2022 40 min

In the only video of the disaster, an entire wing of Champlain Towers South seems to suddenly crash to the ground without warning. But the video doesn’t tell the whole story. The collapse sequence actually took a full seven minutes to unfold, culminating in what was caught on camera. The fifth episode of Collapse: Disaster in Surfside is the first of a two-episode investigation into exactly what happened during those seven minutes,...

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April 13, 2022 39 min

The clock continues to count down on the final seven minutes between when the pool deck came crashing down, and the catastrophic crumbling of the tower above. In the sixth episode of Collapse: Disaster in Surfside, we learn how a woman who narrowly escaped from the 6th floor credits divine intervention, and how a fateful phone call from the 4th floor fits into the timeline of the collapse sequence. The Herald’s reporters continue t...

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April 20, 2022 46 min

The first lawsuit stemming from the collapse was filed literally before the sun had set on day one. Dozens more would follow in its wake over the months to come. As the first anniversary of the disaster approaches, the case has become a legally complex and emotionally excruciating battle over money and blame. Neighbor is pitted against neighbor with millions of dollars at stake. In the seventh episode of Collapse: Disaster in Surfs...

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Almost a year after the tragic fall of the Champlain Towers South, we discuss why the Florida legislature has been hesitant to act to ensure it never happens again, and how the long-range consequences of the event are still unclear. We discuss the unique nature of the 40-year recertification process for buildings in Miami-Dade County, and the reason why buildings in the rest of Florida are not required to collect funds for repairs....

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How did Champlain Towers South come into existence? In the ninth episode of Collapse: Disaster in Surfside, we profile the men who developed, designed and built this apartment complex. And, we also trace the building boom in south Florida that fueled condo construction there in the late 1970's and early 80's. At the time, Surfside was a small seaside town of low-rise buildings with money troubles, insufficient infrastructur...

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In 2015, construction on an ultra-luxury high-rise condo named 87 Park got underway just 15 feet from Champlain Towers South. Champlain’s residents howled about the noise, vibrations, dust, disruption, and worried about potential damage to their building—but found that because it was just over the municipal border between Surfside and Miami Beach, there was little they could do about their unwelcome new neighbor. In the tenth episo...

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May 18, 2022 39 min

The Miami Herald’s investigative team unearths an exclusive story in the eleventh episode of Collapse: Disaster in Surfside. Large cracks in massive planters on the pool deck were noticed by the Champlain Towers' building manager, who alerted the structural engineer in charge of repairing the building for its 40-year certification—but nothing was done. Experts interviewed by the Herald say it was a missed warning sign —a fatal ...

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On the morning of the collapse, at an emergency editorial meeting, before they even knew the scale of the loss of life, the editors at the Miami Herald made a commitment to write a full obituary of every single person who died in this unthinkable tragedy. In the twelfth and final episode of Collapse: Disaster in Surfside, we honor the memory of the victims of one of the worst structural failures in history, and hear from the editor...

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