In light of the recent Chinese drywall ruling, we are profiling families who are living with the problem of Chinese drywall damage in their own homes and lives. While the scope of the problem seems vast because so many tons of Chinese drywall were imported and used in the United States, the reality of the damage is lived out family by family. This is the story of one such family living outside of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Profile: The Maykut Family

Kent Maykut is an everyday hero whose extraordinary acts during and after Hurricane Katrina saved the lives of at least 40 people. Since the storm took their home, they have struggled through the difficulties of rebuilding from nothing and the anxiety and strain of a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Now, the Maykuts have learned that the home they built to start their lives over is filled with Chinese drywall—which is corroding components of their home and contaminating their air.

See the Maykuts’ story for yourself in this video interview or read more below.

Kent Maykut has worked for the gas company for 20 years and regularly serves as an emergency responder during big storms. He volunteered to stay behind in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck the city. During and after Hurricane Katrina, Kent helped save the lives of a least 40 people, pulling people to safety from trees, rooftops and from the flood waters.

The Maykuts’ home was completely destroyed in the storm. Donna Maykut and the kids were safe in Arkansas with just two changes of clothes for each of them. But everything they owned, including virtually all their photographs and memorabilia, was gone.

The family decided to rebuild on higher ground in the greater New Orleans area. They were hoping to make a new start. But in February 2006, while living in an overcrowded apartment and waiting for their new home to be completed, Donna Maykut was diagnosed with breast cancer, requiring two surgeries, eight rounds of chemotherapy and 36 rounds of radiation. In September 2006, the Maykuts moved into their new home, ready to start over, while Donna completes her cancer treatment.

While it was still under warranty, the Maykuts’ air conditioner quit working and the evaporator core had to be replaced. Having heard about some of the problems associated with Chinese drywall, Kent went to the attic to check out his sheetrock; it was stamped with the word Knauf. He knew that meant he had Chinese drywall, and his heart sank. Kent kept searching, and found corrosion under outlet covers, rust on light fixtures and other metals. He realized he would have to tear the house down to the studs and begin again.