FEMA Rejects Florida’s Request for Chinese Drywall Help

Federal emergency officials have rejected Florida’s request for aid for the victims of defective Chinese drywall. According to HeraldTribune.com, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have determined that the Chinese drywall crisis “does not constitute an emergency or major disaster incident.”

Since late 2008, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has received about 3,000 reports from residents in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico regarding defective Chinese drywall. The bulk of those reports – 1,759 – have come from Florida.

Gases emitted from Chinese drywall are being blamed for significant property damage, including damage to HVAC systems, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, metal plumbing components, and other household appliances. These gases also produce a sulfurous odor that permeates homes, and cause metals, including air conditioning coils and even jewelry, to corrode. People living with Chinese drywall have also suffered eye, respiratory and sinus problems that may be linked to the gases.

The drywall problems have forced many people out of their homes, and some families are dealing with the heavy financial burden of paying both rent and mortgage payments. Those unable to afford additional rent have no choice but to stay in their potentially hazardous homes. Homeowners insurance does not cover damage from Chinese drywall, and builders have estimated that remediating a home with Chinese drywall could cost as much as $100,000.

Earlier this month, Florida’s Emergency Management Division sent a letter to FEMA asking it to conduct a preliminary damage assessment and provide financial assistance to drywall victims. But in its response, FEMA suggested that Florida look the CSPSC for help.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist could appeal FEMA’s decision. Just today, the Hillsborough County Commission passed a resolution urging the Governor to do just that.

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