Anxious Louisiana homeowners packed a Chinese drywall town hall meeting in Mandeville last night. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the event attracted people from as far away as Baton Rouge.
The town hall was hosted by state Sens. Julie Quinn, R-Metairie, and A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell. The crowd – estimated at around 500 – was too large for the Mandeville City Hall, so Sen. Quinn held a second meeting right after the first in an attempt to accommodate all who wanted to attend, the Times-Picayune said. Sen. Quinn promised to hold other Chinese drywall meetings in the future.
At the meeting, Sen. Quinn urged attendees to report their Chinese drywall problems to the state’s attorney general, who is trying to ascertain how many homes in Louisiana might be affected. An attorney at the meeting also urged homeowners to make complaints with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).
According to the Times-Picayune, St. Tammany Parish Assessor Patricia Schwarz Core also promised homeowners help. She said her office would reduce assessments for homes with Chinese drywall, providing homeowners submit a reevaluation form and proof that their residence contains the material. Proof could include photos or a note from a contract, the Times-Picayune said.
Chinese drywall poured into the U.S. between 1999 and 2007 because of the high demand created by the housing boom. Imports accelerated when the rebuilding that followed Hurricane Charley in Florida in 2004, and Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast in 2005, created a drywall shortage. According to The Wall Street Journal, some 500 million pounds of Chinese drywall was imported to the U.S. during the housing boom. That means as many as 100,000 homes throughout the country could have been built with the material.
Gases emitted from the drywall are being blamed for significant property damage, including damage to HVAC systems, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, metal plumbing components, and other household appliances. These gases also produce a sulfurous odor that permeates homes, and cause metals, including air conditioning coils and even jewelry, to corrode. People living with Chinese drywall have also suffered eye, respiratory an sinus problems that may be linked to the gases.
Louisiana is among the states hardest hit by the Chinese drywall crisis. According to the CPSC, 184 homeowners there have filed complaints with the agency. However, it is likely that thousands of homes in the state contain the defective material. Many of the Chinese drywall homes in Louisiana were among those rebuilt following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.