QUESTIONS AND (SOME) ANSWERS
Some questions representatives answered at the Saturday meeting were:
Q: What should be the next step if you already have a builder or developer who agreed to remediate in July 2009 and nothing been done to date?
A: Seek legal counsel.
Q: Has toxic drywall been linked to cancer?
A: No. Chemical compounds off-gassed by the drywall are not known carcinogens. They are known to be respiratory irritants.
Some questions they couldn’t answer:
Q: What is the liability of a Realtor who sells a house with defective drywall that the buyer doesn’t fix, but turns around and rents?
Q: If I fix my house now with my own money will I be limited in taking part in a class-action lawsuit?
Q: We paid cash for our house. Who is responsible? The builder is not cooperating.
Q: We were renters of a home with Chinese drywall. We lost $10,000 due to property damage and health problems. What kind of help are we going to get?
THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS
• Defective drywall has now been reported in 37 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.
• Read the newest case definition for defective drywall from the state Health Department.
• Hear and see all scientific presentations and data from a state-sponsored November conference on defective drywall.
Homeowners at a town hall meeting on defective drywall Saturday in Fort Myers burst out in anger and frustration, telling speakers that they didn’t want to hear the status quo.
They wanted answers.
The meeting, called by U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fort Lauderdale, was held at the Lee County commission chambers.
About 150 people attended, hoping for some new information from representatives of the federal Housing and Urban Development Department, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the state Health Department, state Office of Insurance Regulation and the Lee County Property Appraiser’s office.
LeMieux was not at the meeting.
Sarah Hines, Southwest Florida regional director of LeMieux’s office, played a video of LeMieux welcoming the attendees to the meeting and expressing his concern about their dilemma.
They weren’t placated.
“I really am disappointed. He said he would be here today,” said Charles A. Hummer of North Port, ignoring the directive to write down questions on cards so LeMieux’s staff could read them to the speakers.
When asked in an interview earlier this week why he wouldn't attend, LeMieux said the meeting was for informational purposes, particularly for those who are just learning they may have the defective product and want to know more about it.
But the majority of the people attending weren’t drywall newbies.
“Most of the people know they have it. That’s why they’re here,” said Bette Baldwin of Pine Island. “I don’t think they gave us any new information.”
What they apparently wanted to hear was:
• Progress on developing a federal-state-sanctioned protocol to fix the drywall.
• Getting federal disaster relief through an emergency declaration by Gov. Charlie Crist, particularly FEMA funds.
When a LeMieux staffer began reading a question asking about tax deductions for drywall victims, Hummer erupted.
“We’re sick,” he said. “Our house is killing us. Our doctors are telling us to go move out.” He can’t afford to pay mortgage and rent at the same time, he said.
“I don’t need tax writeoffs,” Hummer said. “We’re not getting to speak.”
Told that others did want to hear about possible tax deductions, Hummer answered, “That’s fine, but where’s the governor’s declaration? While I’m lying here dying, they can do their taxes. Where is our governor helping us?”
The crowd applauded.