While hundreds of thousands of Americans are still reeling from this disastrous hurricane season, officials are looking ahead to the rebuilding phase and must take action now to reduce the impact of a potential “silent hurricane” that is fast approaching.
According to Michael Ryan, a partner in the law firm of Krupnick Campbell Malone Buser Slama Hancock Liberman, PA, in 2009 homeowners and communities in Florida, Louisiana and other states were hit hard by toxic Chinese manufactured drywall. “Homeowners were hit by a ‘silent hurricane’ of toxic Chinese drywall which wrecked thousands of homes and tens of thousands of lives,” he said. The Chinese companies responsible for this destruction have avoided being held accountable. “Today, nearly ten years on, many are still suffering.”
Now, with the widespread physical destruction and flooding from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, it is predicted that tens of thousands of homes and commercial buildings will need hundreds of millions of square feet of drywall. Ryan is demanding action now to protect the American people so that the past disasters of Chinese drywall are not repeated.
As a lawyer who represented hundreds of homeowners impacted by Chinese drywall and mayor of a city hit by this Chinese drywall “silent hurricane,” he urges a three step approach to ensuring the protection for those Americans beginning to rebuild.
First, Congress and the Administration must take immediate steps to block the import of Chinese manufactured drywall and building products until there are clear and enforceable standards to ensure the drywall is not toxic and the building products are safe.
Second, the Chinese companies must agree to the same level of accountability expected of American companies and compensate Americans for any damages their products cause. Chinese manufacturers should not be allowed to seek profits here, inflict harm and destruction on the American people and then avoid the legal responsibility for what they have caused.
Third, there must be a widespread education campaign to warn communities of the potential for this next “silent hurricane” before it is too late.
As Ryan explained, “From a property damage sense, the effect of Chinese drywall was as bad, if not worse, for many homeowners as an actual hurricane. Homeowner insurance companies refused insurance coverage. Builders and installers went bankrupt or had virtually no insurance coverage. Homes had to be completely gutted. The economic impact for those homeowners who were able to rebuild from the toxic drywall storm was estimated at more than $650,000,000, and maybe approaching $1,000,000,000.”
The President of the United States is traveling to China this week and this must be a topic of discussion with the Chinese. Ryan added, “The United States Congress and the Administration must act now.” He says, “Those Americans suffering from the 2017 storms deserve nothing less than all necessary effort and action to protect them this time around, before it is too late.”