Corroded nails led to deadly deck collapse at Galveston beach house, inspectors say

Nick Natario Image
Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Corroded nails led to fatal deck collapse, Galveston inspectors say
Galveston inspectors determined corroded nails led to a deck collapse at Susan Farb Morris' beach house, which resulted in her death.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Corroded nails are what Galveston inspectors believe was behind a deadly deck collapse.

Contractors say the salt water can damage the homes nearby. Before you head above, you should inspect the structure underneath.

BTB Construction crews are no strangers to building elevated decks, a structure in Galveston owner Robert Beberg said needs even more detail because of what's lurking nearby.

"Stainless steel fasteners are highly recommended for everything that's on the exterior," Beberg explained.

Without stainless steel, Beberg said the salty air from the Gulf can cause the nails to corrode.

"When salt hits metal, it turns to rust, and if you don't stop it or know that it's happening, it'll happen inside the wood when you're not even paying attention," Beberg said.

An issue Galveston inspectors said was behind a deadly deck collapse on the city's West End. On Friday, city officials say well-known public relations community member Susan Farb Morris died from injuries suffered when her home's deck fell.

On Tuesday, inspectors looked closer. They determined corroded nails were the reason why the deck collapsed.

Contractors said before you go on a deck, look for issues with the wood.

"If there's separation, look for rust," Beberg explained. "Look for even rust lines that are maybe dripping down underneath. That means you have corrosion going on underneath your deck."

City leaders said the collapsed deck was built 30 years ago. It doesn't appear any non-permitted work took place.

If the deck were built today, officials say it wouldn't be up-to-code. Contractors said you don't just want nails or screws but joists hangers.

This way, if the materials corrode, there's extra protection.

"You want to look for rusted screws, rusted nails, especially if you're close to the water," Beberg said. "It gets affected even worse."

That's why Beberg says it's just as important to check the view, not just from the deck, but under it too.

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