Local News

N.C. Senator Works To End Price-Gouging After Natural Disasters

Posted May 9, 2003 4:21 a.m. EDT

— In the weeks following Hurricane Floyd, cleanup and recovery efforts were marked by price gougers trying to take advantage of victims. A state senator is working to make price gouging after a disaster illegal statewide.

Samuel Arnold had some stern words for the repair crew that offered to fix his house after the flood. He said the men quoted an outrageous price for the work.

"I said you can forget it," he said. "That price was so high I decided to sell the land and not rebuild."

"We received a number of number of calls from people who felt that prices were extremely high considering the fact that they were not that high before the flood," said Sam Knight, zoning director of Princeville.

State Sen. A.B. Swindell, D-District 11, is pushing a bill that would outlaw large price hikes on emergency supplies after natural disasters. The price could go up 10 percent, but no higher.

"If you have a chainsaw that's valued at $150 and you sell it for $500, then somebody is going to be coming after you," he said.

Often after a natural disaster, the retailer has to pay more to the supplier just to get the product in stock. The bill does allow for that, but the retailer has to be able to prove what happened. The price-gouging bill has already passed the state Senate.