Land study from 2020 focused on area of Florida building collapse and Norfolk

Building Collapse Miami Rescuers
Posted at 4:46 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 17:09:45-04

NORFOLK, Va. - The death toll continues to climb as the search continues for those who are unaccounted for after part of a building collapsed in Surfside, Florida.

News 3 uncovered a study released last year that examined this area in Florida, along with Norfolk.

Researchers say the two areas were chosen because they had seen issues with flooding.

Dr. Shimon Wdowinski is a professor from Florida International University.

He said he was shocked to see what happened to the building.

“This is very unusual and very scary,” said Wdowinski. “I mean, so many millions of people are living in buildings like that - not just in the United States, but around the world.”

The study was released in April 2020; however, it was based off data that was gathered in the 1990s.

Researchers were using the data to understand subsidence, the gradual settling of land and how it contributed to coastal flooding.

Wdowinski said both cities experienced flooding events over the past two decades.

He said, “We know that sea level is rising, but sea level rise... it's not necessarily the whole story.”

He said they wanted to understand more about how subsidence impacts the areas.

His study found that from the data gathered in the 1990s, there was land subsidence in the area where the building collapsed, and this was cited in the study.

He stressed engineers are working to find the actual cause of the collapse and said subsidence was likely neither the main nor the only issue issue.

“My study shed some light and provided some small part in the puzzle,” said Wdowinski.

Related: What are the chances a seaside structure in Hampton Roads can collapse? Emergency expert weighs in

In Norfolk, the study found that the main areas affected by subsidence were Willoughby Spit and Tunnel Island, Craney Island and Lamberts Point Terminal, the East Beach Residential Area and the Hampton Roads Beltway.

Researchers stated in the study that it is a valuable tool to help local authorities improve flood hazard assessments and can help with flood emergency response and recovery plans.

Click here to read the full study.