Miami police and fire rescue teams evacuated residents Tuesday from two buildings across the street from where a crane collapsed during Hurricane Irma, city officials said.
Thirty-six hours later, the crane has yet to be secured, prompting police and fire teams to ask residents in the Edgewater neighborhood to evacuate the east side of the building located at 479 NE 30th St. as well as the entire building at 505 NE 30th St. The buildings are across the street from the Gran Paraiso construction site.
“You are looking at a very large piece of a crane that’s still up in the air,” said Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll. “We don’t know what could happen. Could there be some forceful winds that come later on tonight? Or there are factors that could happen tomorrow. We don’t know. That’s why we don’t want to take any chances.”
Police said the evacuation order was not mandatory but “highly encouraged.” Miami police spokeswoman Kenia Fallat said officers were being assigned to keep watch over the building around the clock.
On Monday, city officials said they were working with the general contractor, Plaza Construction, to secure the Gran Paraiso building and make sure the building — incomplete but many stories high already — is structurally sound. Maurice Pons, the city’s building official, said the contractor must submit engineering reports on the conditions of the crane.
Plaza Construction did not return a phone call from the Herald.
Plaza Construction told building residents it would reimburse “reasonable” hotel stays, according to Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll.
“Reasonable? That means I need to cough out my own money and pay for accommodations that I don’t even think I’ll be able to get because of this hurricane … and I have pets,” said Juliette Reiss, 61, as officers helped carry out her dog and two cats. “You know what I think? I think they should have taken that crane down before Irma. They were careless and knew this could happen.”
Dozens of people stood outside the evacuated building that still had no power. Bruno Rebuffo, 27, rolled his cooler out of his apartment. Inside were eggs, water, peanut butter and jelly.
He told the Miami Herald he didn’t evacuate the building during Hurricane Irma and heard the sound of crane parts hitting the ground.
“It felt like an earthquake,” he said, as he placed his cooler in the trunk of his SUV. “All this stuff is what we had packed for Irma, but now it’s for this crane dilemma,” Rebuffo said. “Where do they expect us to go? And about them reasonably reimbursing us, do they think we are going to check in at the Fontainebleau Hotel? We’re not some rich descarados either. It’s honestly disrespectful. It’s not our fault the crane fell.”
A second crane at the Vice apartment tower in downtown Miami also snapped during Hurricane Irma. A third crane, in a luxury condo tower under construction in Fort Lauderdale, also collapsed during Irma.
The cranes were supposed to be able to withstand winds of around 145 miles per hour.
Carroll told reporters late Tuesday that Plaza Construction has yet to secure the crane.
“It’s been 36 hours and we’ve been waiting for personnel to come down here. We understand that there’s a lot of traffic, a lot of debris, and road damages as a result of the hurricane, making it very difficult for crews to come down,” Carroll said.
Irene Hernandez, a 37-year-old resident, said she’s confused by the evacuation order altogether.
“So they are telling us this huge crane can fall down, but that we can stay at our own risk?” Hernandez said. “Yet they won’t provide us with a place to stay and won’t restore our power if we choose to? So we’re supposed to die from either a heat stroke or by a giant crane?”