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FEMA rebuffs Florida’s request for Chinese drywall help

MANATEE — The Federal Emergency Management Agency has rejected Florida’s request for help in assessing damage caused by corrosive Chinese drywall.

A regional FEMA director said in a reply letter that the state’s request doesn’t meet the federal criteria for an emergency or major disaster, and thus cannot be granted.

“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,” said the letter by Phil May, FEMA’s regional administrator in Atlanta.

The state’s interim emergency management director had written FEMA last week, asking the federal agency for help in conducting a joint preliminary damage assessment. The state official, David Halstead, also asked FEMA to “identify and distribute financial aid to the families suffering as a result of this defective drywall.”

In his reply, May directed state officials to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which plans to make money available to homeowners affected by Chinese drywall.

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