Several people are missing after a deteriorating building partially collapsed in Iowa
JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:
But first to Davenport, Iowa, where authorities say they are still looking for at least three people after the partial collapse of a large apartment building in the city's downtown over the weekend. A long paper trail shows the city has been aware for months of the building's deteriorating condition and the concerns of its residents. Iowa Public Radio's Zachary Oren Smith has been covering this story and joins us now. Hi there.
ZACHARY OREN SMITH, BYLINE: Hi.
SUMMERS: So, Zachary, this building is in the center of downtown Davenport, and the collapse happened on Sunday. Bring us up to speed. What has been happening since Sunday?
SMITH: Yeah, that's right. The main focus since Sunday has been on search and rescue. Remember; this is a large building with 90 units. Fifty residents in Davenport were displaced following its collapse. And it's been difficult to locate some because it served as emergency housing for so many of those residents. That makes some of their whereabouts difficult to determine. Today authorities said two people who were missing have been accounted for off-site. And that's good news. But it's been really frustrating and scary, especially for Mike Collier. His cousin, Branden Colvin, is one of those still missing.
MIKE COLLIER: Yesterday they found a woman that said that they had searched through all of the building and no one was in there. But yesterday they found a woman in there. So evidently, it's evident that they don't really know if anyone is still in the building.
SMITH: And as you can hear in that cut, a lot of the people are protesting this. Many I spoke to are angry about the city's response to the partial collapse and subsequent search.
SUMMERS: Yeah, you can hear that. So, Zachary, is the city actually demolishing this building?
SMITH: That's complicated. After it collapsed Sunday, the plan was to demolish the building as early as Tuesday, but that got delayed indefinitely after a resident was discovered waving from the fourth floor window despite search and rescue team's best efforts. It's been a very trying situation all around. Mayor Mike Matson said they are making decisions based on the best information that they have, and sometimes that's not a lot.
MIKE MATSON: Do I have regrets about this tragedy and about people potentially losing their lives? Hell yeah. Do I think about this every moment? Hell yeah. I apologize for me getting a little wordy here.
SMITH: There's no real indication of when the building will be torn down yet.
SUMMERS: OK. And you've written recently about the structural concerns surrounding this building. What did you find there?
SMITH: Yeah. This morning we published on a number of red flags stakeholders raised about the building prior to its collapse. A structural engineer hired by the owner detailed issues with a load-bearing beam as well as issues with the facade that was integral to supporting the building's integrity. The facade was peeling away from the apartment building. As early as February, one utility company refused to conduct work near the facility, citing concerns for worker safety.
SUMMERS: You mentioned the owners. So far, what have they had to say about this collapse?
SMITH: The owner, Andrew Wold, issued a statement recently. And I quote, "we've been working closely with the American Red Cross and other agencies to assist the displaced tenants affected by this event. We are forever grateful to them for all of their assistance with our tenants," end quote. The city is taking action on - against Wold. He's been fined 300 bucks, which sounds really small in context of the...
SMITH: ...Collapse of a multimillion dollar apartment building. But the city said today - city attorney said today that that's to prevent Wold from transferring ownership and avoiding costs related to its demolition. He has a court set for - a court date set for later this month. But at the moment, officials have not determined a cause for the collapse. We're waiting to hear more on that.
SUMMERS: That is Iowa Public Radio's Zachary Oren Smith. Thanks for your reporting.
SMITH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.