Wednesday, April 1, 2009
7 News Investigations: Drywall
It was first on Seven, and the story went national after we launched an investigation: allegations of dangerous drywall from China making people sick and causing all kinds of problems in Florida homes. Now, some are saying the situation is so bad they're asking FEMA for help. Reed Cowan is live in Parkland with details.
WSVN -- Parkland Mayor Michael Udien: "If a hurricane came through here and wrecked a hundred houses, FEMA will be down here. This is a silent hurricane, the damage will be just as bad, if not worse."
Parkland Mayor Michael Udien up to bat and swinging at what he calls a disaster-- Chinese drywall in home after home, many built between 2005 and 2007. The drywall reportedly containing high levels of sulfuric compounds. Tell tale signs: stinking homes and sick people.
Melissa Harrell, Homeowner: "Coughing, sinus issues, drainage, waking up with soar throats. My husband, he's gotten headaches and both of my kids seem to be sick all the time."
Mayor Michael Udien: "You smell a rotten, minor rotten egg-type of smell. You can feel it in your eyes, you can feel it in the back of your throat."
In Parkland, which is not the only community 7 News has featured with dealing with Chinese drywall problems, the complaints are the same. Aside from complaints of being sick, copper pipes and wires are mysteriously turning black.
Mike Foreman, construction consultant: "This is a sign that there is corrosion. There is something in the air that's accelerating a process here that is unknown at this juncture."
Inside the Parkland meeting on this matter with homes and help at stake, emotions ran high.
Parkland's mayor spent time in Tallahassee this week pleading for state help, and ultimately FEMA disaster funds. Homeowners like John Willis, meanwhile, feeling stuck in their own home.
John Willis, homeowner: "We're trapped, and really we've got our letters from our insurance company this week all telling us that it is not covered; it's a defect in construction."
What next for Parkland? The mayor calling for a task force, an information gathering task force, so that they can really start to build a file and then make recommendations. Meanwhile, they are going to ask for help from the state, which they started this week in Tallahassee, and they hope that a congressional letter can get all the way to FEMA, and they can tap into some federal funds to start helping these people.
In the meantime, a lot of homeowners are feeling powerless. In fact, one of the builders, here in this town, accused of using this Chinese drywall has declared bankruptcy, so imagine what the homeowners are feeling.