On Friday, a group of contracted flood debris removal crews in Kentucky took a “safety standdown.” According to reports, the standdown stemmed from crew members demanding answers regarding why their working restrictions continue to change. The changes come as they try to clean up from the state’s disastrous flooding back in June.
“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,” said Jarrod Breeding, a waterway contractor at the strike.
Other Kentucky crew members added that the new restrictions no longer let the crews accomplish the necessary tasks.
Fellow waterway contractor Brandon Brock 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.”
The men also said that these new restrictions have since created dangerous working conditions for the teams. Now, they allege it’s increasing the chance of future flooding in this area of Kentucky.
Kentucky crews beg for answers, want to get back to work
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. We’re unable to do the job we signed up for correctly.”
The affected crews were hired by AshBritt, an emergency management, and disaster response service. However, according to the crew members, Ashbritt is not the problem, and they have been accommodating during this time.
After the news broke, AshBritt CEO Brittany Perkins Castillo responded to the situation with an official statement.
“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,” the statement read.
It continued: “There are several local, state, and federal agencies 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.”
However, the crew members revealed they would not return to work until they get the answers they are looking for and changes in their work environment have been implemented.