Miami Residents Who Live Near Crane Broken By Hurricane Irma Told To Evacuate

Sep 12, 2017

This is a developing story. We'll update the post with more information as we receive it.

Hurricane Irma destroyed a crane on 30th Terrace in Miami.
Credit Wilson Sayre/WLRN

Miami city officials are evacuating residents who live near a crane that Hurricane Irma collapsed. The crane, on NE 30th Terrace near 5th Avenue was part of construction of the Gran Paraiso building, which is being developed by the Related Group, with construction by Plaza Construction.

Bruno Rebuffo says he's angry that Plaza Construction Company wasn't out to address residents' concerns about the broken crane.
Credit Wilson Sayre / WLRN

The horizontal arm of the crane is dangling 400-450 feet off the ground on the edge of the still-under-construction building. From the ground you can see parts of the mangled steel poking out on the South and Southwest sides of the building. The vertical tower where the arm is supposed to attached has wires handing off it. The massive counterweights used to offset weight picked up by the crane crashed down some 50 stories into the road.

He just got all his supplies for Irma—water and eggs--and now, unlike when the storm hit, Bruno Rebuffo put them in a car and evacuated his home along with other resident of his roughly 36 unit building.

“Man that thing was crazy,” said Rebuffo, “You just felt like an earthquake, it felt like the ground just shook.  And we were scared, we were like ‘oh my god, watch it be the crane.’”

While Irma passed through, the weights were covered by storm surge, but when the waters receded, residents found massive rectangular weights lodged into the road below.

Ignatius Carroll, public information officer for City of Miami Fire Rescue, address the press and residents.
Credit Wilson Sayre / WLRN

“We’re concerned about whether or not that crane can come down,” said Captain Ignatius Carroll, public information officer for City of Miami Fire Rescue, “It’s not strapped, there’s nothing keeping it from coming down.”

He says, now, 36 hours after Plaza Construction Company walked the property to see what the damage looked like, nothing has been done to secure the broken parts of the crane. He says Plaza Construction Company is waiting for the company that operates the crane to get a crew to Miami to address the issue.

The city is asking resident of 505 NE 30th street, directly across from the Gran Paraiso building to voluntarily evacuate. They’ve have been told to go seek shelter elsewhere, though have not been provided assistance with where.

Some residents are being asked to voluntarily evacuate because a broken crane has not yet been secured.
Credit Wilson Sayre / WLRN

According to residents who were read an email from the president of Plaza Construction verified by Carroll, the company will pick up the tab for “reasonable costs” of hotel or other accommodations.

“I don’t know what that means,” said Bruno Rebuffo as he packed up his family car with a blue cooler before his Mom, Dad and yorkie, Bella, got in. “So we’re just going to look for somewhere to stay with my dog and come back when they tell us.”

One of the counterweights from the crane embedded in the road.
Credit Frank Rodriguez

“We do not appreciate that there is no one from Plaza Construction,” said Rodrigo Nuno, a seven-year resident of the building under evacuation notice.

He says given that residents shelled out so much money to prepare for Irma—plywood, water, food--fronting the costs of hotels is going to be a stretch.

“A lot of us right now have been without working for a few days, some people, including myself, we might not have the funds,” said Nuno.  

“I think it’s very irresponsible on the a part of the construction companies to leave the cranes up, a few of them have collapsed,” said Frank Rodriguez, a resident of Porta Di Oro which is also across the street from the broken crane. “They’ve got to step up their game and take care of the people surrounding it.”  

Torrence Johnson and his family evacuated to just outside of Orlando because he was nervous about the crane.

“I was fearful, I seen it and I was like ah, I don’t trust it too much,” said Johnson.

They arrived back in Miami at 4 a.m. Tuesday to be told 14 hours later that they might have to leave again. As of Tuesday evening, it does not look like they will have to do that, after initially being told they would have to evacuate.

A few of the crane's counterweights.
Credit Wilson Sayre / WLRN

“I don’t like it at all,” said Johnson's daughter Anaya of those reassurances. “It’s kind of like the Titanic, it’s never going to sink, but look what happened.”

“Now, you can’t say that it’s going to happen tonight, you can't say that it’s going to happen tomorrow, can’t say it’s going to happen while we’re here,” said Carroll of the need to ask people to evacuate.

The Johnson family had previously evacuated their home because they were worried about the crane looming above their building. Now, their neighbors are having to evacuate because of it.
Credit Wilson Sayre / WLRN

How long they will need to stay away is unclear.

“Their building is not the one that's compromised, it’s the building right next door to it and telling them to leave and really not having a place for them to go, we can’t do that right now,” said Carroll. “They’re not forced to leave, they’re just encouraged to leave.”