Flood debris removal crews take a ‘safety standdown’ to not return to work until they get answers
LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Nearly 15 locally contracted flood debris removal crews took what they called a “safety standdown” on Friday.
The crews gather with their equipment outside, along the road in Letcher County.
Crew members said they were looking for answers as to why their working restrictions have continued to change.
Jarrod Breeding, a waterway contractor at the strike said, “We’re looking for answers, who’s in charge, who’s responsible for all these restrictions because we want our communities to be safe. We want to rest assured if there’s another flood that we’re not gonna see the damages that we saw on July the 28th.”
Other crew members also added that the new restrictions are no longer allowing the crews to do what needs to be done.
Brandon Brock, another waterway contractor said, “When you do a job and you work for somebody you know you want to do the best that you can do, and the stipulations that we’ve been put under the last few weeks, it makes it hard for us to do a good job. You know it’s hard to continue on when you’re not doing the best that you can do.”
They also added that these new restrictions have created unsafe working conditions for the crews, and it is increasing the chance of flooding in the future.
Waterway contractor, Jordan Childers said “It’s unsafe for us to work in conditions like that when they say these trees are ineligible. Okay, when two weeks prior they were eligible, and everything was gone, everything was safe as we go out. Now we’re basically leaving it in worse shape than what we found it because we’re unable to do the job we signed up for correctly.”
The crews were hired by AshBritt, an emergency management and disaster response service. The crew members said that Ashbritt is not the issue and they have been very helpful throughout the situation.
AshBritt CEO, Brittany Perkins Castillo responded to the situation with a statement.
The statement said, “The recovery project has been a tremendous success to date. Local contractors are managing a significant portion of the work and are doing an excellent job. There are multiple local, state and federal agency’s working on a very complex project and very sensitive mission. We understand there are some current challenges as many agencies transition to the next phase. Under the great leadership of KYTC and USACE, we know the project will continue strong into the next phase.”
The crew members said they will not be returning to work until they get the answers they are looking for and they see changes have been made.
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