6 Early Crisis Management Lessons From The Collapse Of Florida Condo
As rescue efforts continue after the partial collapse on Thursday of a condo near Miami Beach, Florida early lessons about managing and communicating about a crisis have already started to emerge from the tragedy. Indeed, the collapse of the decades-old building could have important implications for the safety of and inspection of other buildings across the country.
As noted on journalism website Poynter.org, “Condos don’t just fall. Even 40-year-old condos don’t just collapse without something being horribly wrong with them. The Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, Florida, was in the process of being repaired and upgraded to qualify for recertification when a building wing collapsed.
“Like other such tragedies, this one has a high potential to affect building inspections and construction nationwide, depending on what caused the collapse.”
Police reported that the residents who survived the collapse unharmed were moved to the town’s community center.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters, “We are happy to report that through the help of the Red Cross we have short-term hotels set up for these folks, and obviously we are going to work with the city and the county, state to make sure that there is any longer-term needs, that we can be helpful in any way that we can.”
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Information Can Be Subject To Change
Depending on the crisis, information about the situation can change as more facts become known.
According to the first news reports about the collapse of the building, on Thursday at least 99 people were said to be unaccounted for and one person was declared dead. Friday morning, the numbers had changed, with four dead and 159 unaccounted for.
It Can Take Time To Find Out The Truth
Speaking at a news conference, Florida Ron DeSantis said, “I know that they are going to have engineers looking at this to try to identify what happened, and what was the problematic occurrence,” DeSantis said. “You aren’t going to have those answers immediately, but I know that they are diligently going to be working to be able to do that.”
Don’t Guess Or Speculate
Don’t attempt to guess or speculate about the cause of a crisis.
Neither should you guess or repeat rumors about the cause of a crisis.
According to Fox Business, “Gary Slossberg, founder of the South Florida construction company National Home Building & Remodeling Corp, said he hasn’t heard any specific leads as to the cause of the building’s fall, but after decades working in the industry, he has his suspicions.
“In a general way, there are many things that could happen. Construction defects or engineering defects,” he said, adding that he’s not suggesting there were any construction or engineering defects but simply pointing out the possibility. “I think there is some value, and it makes some sense to do periodic inspections.”
Director of Media Relations and Crisis Communications at Marketing Maven Public Relations, Inc.1) Do not minimize the possibility of the number of dead and injured at the onset of the situation, because it makes you look disingenuous if the body count grows.
Tortorici said spokespersons “…should be forthcoming about any safety ratings or studies that have recently been done on the location (in this instance, the apartment building).
He noted that, “In this case, a Florida professor mentioned a study done last year that showed signs the building was sinking at a rate of about 2 millimeters a year between 1993 and 1999. Buildings in nearby western Miami Beach, which was built on reclaimed wetlands, were moving at higher rates, “so we didn’t think it was something unusual,” he said.
“Also, be sure to mention at the onset of the disaster if any construction was being done (whether or not it contributed to the accident), as it was here. Then keep everyone apprised of findings on causes as they emerge,” Tortorici recommended.