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Miami building collapse: could it happen in Cleveland?

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 7:53 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The building collapse in Miami may be rare, but it’s bringing up some important questions about our aging infrastructure here.

19 Investigates found our proximity to Lake Erie brings some challenges for engineers.

Dr. Bill Yu is Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Case Western Reserve University.

He was shocked when he saw the Miami building collapse. He told us his first impressions.

“Like some portion initially failed and caused the whole thing, a big portion to fail,” he said.

Yu believes corrosion from the ocean and ground sediment shifting could have been problems in the Miami building collapse.

He pointed out the sediment is soft on beachfront property.

“So some part of the sediment settled probably more than the other, that can cause a real problem,” Yu said.

Here in northeast Ohio many buildings, including high rises around Cleveland, were built close to the lake.

19 Investigates asked Yu whether erosion concerns are an issue for buildings here.

He said soil and rock can erode here and foundations could lose support.

But if those problems are caught, they can be fixed, and he said buildings will last for a long time.

Yu said usually there are warning signs before a collapse like this.

“People claimed they heard a cracking noise the day before the incident, that could be a warning sign, that may be part of the lesson to prevent a future incident like this,” he said.

Yu thinks more routine building inspections may be a good idea.

And in the future, artificial intelligence could analyze data and warn if anything could be wrong.

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