WAUKESHA, Wis. -- A six-story condominium building that was the subject of resident complaints dating back to June 2020 has been evacuated in a Milwaukee suburb after engineers found the structure was in imminent danger of collapsing.
Police and firefighters cleared the 48-unit Horizon West condominium building in Waukesha on Thursday night after an engineering report said its structural columns were compromised. A total of 65 people were evacuated, city officials said.
“We’re trying to avoid a ‘Florida,’” said Waukesha Police Lt. Kevin Rice, in reference to the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida, in June that claimed the lives of nearly 100 people.
City officials said 23 rooms were provided by the Salvation Army of Waukesha. Two properties near the building were also evacuated because they are in a possible collapse zone, the Journal Sentinel reported.
The city said Friday that it had closed down all balconies in the summer of 2020 after a complaint over structural issues. After attempts to rectify the situation were unsuccessful, the condominium association began removing the balconies last month.
“Removal of the balconies revealed deficiencies of the structural frame of the building as well as the structural columns,” the city's release said. Additional data received Thursday afternoon deemed the building unsafe for habitation, the city said.
Contractors for the condo owner had installed structural shoring on the building by noon Friday.
The evacuation comes less than two weeks after the driver of an SUV careened through the Waukesha Christmas parade, killing six people and injuring dozens of others.
Neighbor Vanessa Terrazas said the evacuation only adds to the community’s stress.
“How much more can Waukesha take right now?” she asked.
Jacqueline Gonzales, whose father lives in the building, waited nearby for him to return home from a Bible study at a church. She hadn’t been able to reach him.
“I don’t even know if he knows he isn’t going to have a home when he comes back from Bible study,” Gonzales said. “He’s got nothing right now.”