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Residents Near FL Cranes Advised to Leave

Thursday, September 7, 2017

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Officials are telling residents in Miami living near high-rise construction sites to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma’s estimated arrival, according to local news reports, because of the danger posed by the large cranes.

The deputy director of the building department for the City of Miami said in a statement that he would not advise staying next to a site that had a construction crane, noting that though the cranes are certified to withstand a hurricane, that only covers up to Category 4, or 145 mph winds.

Hurricane Irma, which is projected to hit the area this weekend, is currently classified as a Category 5, with winds up to 185 mph. The cranes—which number around 20-25 around the city—pose a danger to nearby buildings because they cannot be tied down, and could collapse during the storm.

Site Cleanup

Everything else at construction sites will be tended to—machinery and large materials will be tied down and secured and debris will be cleared.

“Contractors have complex hurricane plans in place,” Peter Dyga, CEO and president of the Associated Builders and Contractors, told the Miami Herald. “They’ve already had meetings [Tuesday] morning to talk about securing movable materials, stopping deliveries and emptying trash bins.”

Dan Whiteman, vice-chairman of Coastal Construction, told the Herald that inspectors will be out to the various job sites to make sure everything is properly handled and noted the impact that Hurricane Andrew (a Category 5 hurricane that struck the area in 1992 that caused $26 billion in damage) had on the industry’s knowledge of what precautions to take.

“Hurricane Andrew was a major wakeup call to the construction industry,” Whiteman said. “Hurricane King was the last big hurricane to hit Miami, and that was in 1950. Everyone was lulled to sleep. But Hurricane Andrew was a learning experience. Flying debris caused as much damage as the wind itself.”

Other Worries

The Miami New Times notes that, beyond just construction cranes, the 27,000 condos built around the city since 2002 may not be prepared for the severity of Irma's winds.

Assuming all of those structures were built to code, they’re capable of withstanding 175 mph winds (the highest that were recorded in Hurricane Andrew), but as of Wednesday (Sept. 6), Irma continued to sustain winds of 185 mph.

   

Tagged categories: Construction; Cranes; Disasters; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; North America; Safety

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