As Hurricane Dorian barrels toward South Florida, developers and builders prepare

“The biggest problem is loose items that can be projectiles,” contractor associated head said

A satellite image of Hurricane Dorian (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)
The Miami skyline and a satellite image of Hurricane Dorian (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

Across South Florida, developers and builders are securing tower cranes to blow with the wind like a weather vane, putting away debris that could become projectiles and emptying out dumpsters of loose materials as Hurricane Dorian barrels toward Florida’s coastline, projected to become a powerful Category 4 storm.

As of Friday afternoon, the hurricane was a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour, approaching the Bahamas. South Florida could begin to feel the effects of tropical storm winds on Sunday or Monday, with landfall currently expected between Palm Beach and Martin counties early Tuesday.

At Estates at Acqualina in Sunny Isles Beach, workers started on Wednesday removing trash, tying down loose materials, and removing wind screens from the top of the building, said developer Jules Trump. The site’s tower cranes will be secured so that they can blow freely in the wind. And before the storm approaches, anything electrical will be disconnected in case of water intrusion. Computers will be covered and placed on the floor.

“We are taking all precautions,” Trump said.

Nearby, Developer Gil Dezer said the Residences by Armani/Casa construction site in Sunny Isles Beach is already “all buttoned up and sealed up” now that the interiors are being built out.

For Hurricane Irma, Dezer housed supercars in his Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles Beach. He said the offer is now on the table for Brett David, owner of Prestige Imports, who stored a handful of high-end cars, including a $5 million Ferrari and a $15 million Pagani Zonda during Hurricane Irma.

In Boca Raton, Penn-Florida Companies, the developer of Via Mizner, a 2-million-square-foot mixed-use project, has had teams securing equipment since Wednesday, removing loose debris and banding all material, according to a spokesperson. Columns and shear wall forms were also poured with concrete to secure them for the storm.

Workers also have been checking the fence lines and screens, relocating all gas and oil products to a safe area, and have cancelled any new deliveries to the site. Sedimentation tanks are being filled with water to add weight for protection against high winds. And in advance of the storm, engineers are also removing awnings and signs and filling up life safety generators.

“Our project managers are meeting with their onsite teams and subcontractors after every advisory to further evaluate and prepare,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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Moss Construction, which has 45 projects within the storm’s forecast cone, follows a specific storm protocol, with preparations lasting all week, said Scott Gerrard, vice president of safety, health & environment, in a statement.

The sites stopped delivery of materials on Wednesday, and Thursday started securing the sites, making sure construction materials are stored properly, debris is removed and/or secured and ensuring IT equipment and heavy machinery is protected, the spokesperson said.

“This year we will be using 16 licensed drone operators to conduct fly-overs of all of our sites to check that storm preparations are on schedule,” he said in a statement.

Similarly, at Kolter Homes’ South Florida projects, workers have been disassembling and securing scaffolding, removing wind screens from fences, and bundling up roof tiles and zip-tying them on the roof, according to a spokesperson.

Peter Dyga, CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors Florida East Coast Chapter, said most plans are put in place 72 hours out from the hurricane’s approach, so preparations are already underway.

“The biggest problem is loose items that can be projectiles,” Dyga said.

Securing tower cranes is, of course, also vital.

Key International Co-President Inigo Ardid said in a statement that its AC Hotel by Marriott site in Fort Lauderdale Beach stopped the use of its tower crane at noon on Wednesday to ensure it was secured by the end of that day. Any materials on the above-ground floors were also brought down to the first level for safety.

“We will continue procedures to secure the project,” he said, “and are monitoring the hurricane’s path to determine when site work can resume.”