Earlier this month, the interim director of the state’s Division of Emergency Management wrote to FEMA requesting immediate help.
“Florida families are suffering deeply and we need your urgent assistance,” the letter said.
However, FEMA says the conditions don’t constitute an emergency or major disaster and suggested the state continue to work with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“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 contemplated under the Stafford Act,” wrote FEMA’s Regional Administrator Major P. May.
Mike Ryan, a partner at Krupnick Campbell Malone Buser Slama Hancock Liberman & McKee in Fort Lauderdale, has been working with homeowners and builders impacted by Chinese drywall.
"FEMA just doesn't get it. This is not purely a consumer product safety issue. This is a man-made disaster that has wrecked homes and communities,” Ryan said in a news release. “There is simply no prohibition under the FEMA empowering law against helping homeowners and communities during a man-made disaster.”
Ryan said that for the state to get assistance, the governor would have to declare a state of emergency.
"Since March of 2009, we have been describing this catastrophe as a silent hurricane, with a path of destruction throughout Florida and the country," said Ryan. "In some sense it is worse than a hurricane because there is no insurance and now FEMA and the state are refusing to help."
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received about 3,000 reports in 37 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico from people who believe their health problems or metal corrosion in their homes is related to the presence of Chinese drywall, according to the CPC’s Web site.