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Floundering under the weight of an unusual type of "emergency," Florida Governor Charlie Crist directed a letter be sent to FEMA requesting emergency funding for the substantial group of Floridians suffering damage to health and property due to the Chinese drywall their homes were built with. Unfortunately for the Governor, FEMA took all of two days to devise a reply: no.
According to a report by the Herald-Tribune, FEMA regional manager, Major P. May, summed up the agency response to Governor Crist like this, "conditions experienced by individuals from a consumer product safety matter, such as the degradation of imported drywall, does not constitute an emergency or major disaster incident."
As overblown as a request for FEMA aid may seem, the state is dealing with some wide-ranging problems all allegedly due to the imported drywall. The Herald-Tribune reports that 530 homes in the state meet the Florida Department of Health threshold for being impacted by the drywall which appears to cause serious metal corrosion in those houses containing it. Further, in a state still staggering under the effects of a collapsed real estate market, an additional 2,505 homes have had their values further reduced due the presence of the Chinese made drywall.
As government agencies are sometimes want to do, in its rejection letter, FEMA directed the state to seek help from yet another government agency. "The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the lead Federal agency investigating reported health and safety issues blamed on the imported drywall, and they are working closely with state law enforcement and health authorities," read the letter.
The Herald-Tribune writes the state will now try other options for aid, including possibly appealing FEMA's decision, said Lauren McKeague, a spokeswoman for the state's emergency management division.
When in doubt thought, perhaps some assistance can be found in the judicial system. A trial to determine what kind of repairs and monetary damages manufacturers of the tainted Chinese drywall are responsible for is under way this week in a New Orleans federal court.