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Florida Collapse Gets Engineers, Lawmakers Thinking About Structural Integrity Of Buildings Along New York's Coastline

LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- In the wake of the tragic building collapse in Florida, there are calls for New York state to bolster its requirements for aging buildings in coastal communities.

As CBS2s Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday, it could make annual structural inspections mandatory.

Our coastal communities are in some ways like Miami. Corrosive, salty air, wind and heat batter decades-old buildings, and many haven't been inspected since they were built.

Long Beach residents are flooding City Hall with worried calls.

"It can happen anywhere, if it happened in Florida. They have a lot of humidity. We have a lot of humidity," resident Elizabeth Canale said.

"For these big buildings, I am concerned. I would be afraid," resident Pat Caltabiano said.

Amid the catastrophic Surfside collapse, there's concern coastal New York high-rises are at best only randomly inspected for renovations or after an accident, like when balconies crumbled in Long Beach five years ago.

Jordan Ruzz is an engineering consultant.

"I've seen a handful, from an engineering standpoint, some rather frightening things. Each and every one of them was discovered accidentally," Ruzz said.

Officials gathered in Long Beach called it common sense to mandate structural inspections, like fire systems and elevators .

"Would you want to get on an airplane you knew wasn't inspected? Of course not," Long Beach City Council President John Bendo said.

"When we ask ourselves what is the status of our buildings in Long Beach? In many cases the honest answer is we don't know. Tenants don't know," state Sen. Todd Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky said there's no cause for immediate alarm, but he is urging the state Code Council to mandate regular inspections for older buildings by building owners, with municipalities tasked with enforcement.

"Concrete cracking and falling, structural steel looking corroded, having holes in it. Things like that would set off an alarm," Long Beach Building Commissioner Scott Kemins said.

"I definitely think they should be inspected more often. On a finer note, hire an architect, engineer," building contractor Nikolai Jurasits said.

Officials say they will leave the specifics up to the experts to decide how often inspections would be needed and in what age buildings.

But they say to do nothing along our high-risk coastline would be irresponsible.

New York City has its own building code, considered one of the most stringent in the world, and requires façade inspections every five years.

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