“I started walking toward where they were at, and you could see the building leaning, and you could see a big crack at the base of the building,” said Perez, 54, who was visiting from New Jersey.
Maggie Moreno, of San Antonio, was staying in a building next to the one that partially collapsed. She was awoken by firemen and police officers knocking on her door. She couldn’t get the door to her unit open all the way.
“It sounded like popcorn,” said Moreno, who was visiting with her husband, daughter and two grandchildren. “The building was just snapping.”
Caldwell, the development’s president, said a window popped in one of the rooms about 10:30 p.m. A woman ran outside and flagged down a guard Shanley, who notified management. Another window then popped and a decision was made to immediately evacuate the building, Caldwell said. The process took 10 to 15 minutes, he said.
The section of the building sank into the ground over next five hours, said Amy Jedele, a resort guest who was staying with her fiancee, Darren Gade, in a building about 100 yards away. Residents who had been inside the building described hearing what sounded like thunder and then the sound of water, as if it were a thunderstorm, she said.
The first portions to sink were the walkways and the elevator shaft, Gade said.
“You could see the ground falling away from the building where the building started leaning,” Gade said.
“People were in shock to see a structure of that size just sink into the ground slowly. … You could see the stress fractures up the side of the structure getting wider.”
Caldwell said the partially collapsed building, with 24 three-story units, is a total loss, and he was waiting on further inspections to determine any damage to the second and third buildings. The resort has about 900 units spread over a large area about 10 miles west of Walt Disney World.<< previous 1 2 3 4 next >>