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Help Wanted: Escambia Seeks Workers To Remove Debris

Bob Barrett/WUWF Public Media

The clean-up from Hurricane Sally has opened up some job opportunities in the area. 

“They’re talking about pretty long days, 12 hours a day for seven days a week,” said Andrew Neilson, part of the first group of applicants leaving a job fair at the Escambia County Central Office Complex Monday afternoon. He says this first meeting at the job fair is a screen process for the potential new hires. “They are taking applications right now, just getting some basic information, and then they are going to be sending out an application probably in the next 24 to 48 hours.”

The project is a collaboration with FEMA with a goal to hire about 300 people to help clean hurricane debris in Escambia County. Once hired, workers will be on the job in a hurry.

“As early as Wednesday, actually. So they look like they might have a bunch of trucks that will be coming around and picking up all (of the) vegetative debris that we see alongside the roads. There are a couple of other jobs, but that’s the main one that they are seeing as a problem right now for this county.”

The job fair is being operated by Thompson Consulting Services, a company headquartered in Central Florida. Their website says the company is a full service emergency response, disaster recovery and grant management consultancy organized as a subsidiary of Thompson Holdings and has provided disaster response and recovery services since 1979 following Hurricane Frederic. Representatives of the company on hand at the job fair refused to comment for this report, and there were no county representatives authorized to speak to the media on hand.

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For many of the over 100 applicants on hand, the fair offered a bit of a life line to people out of work due to COVID-19 and the storm. “Starting at $12 an hour, and $13 for another job. So it’s either $12 or $13 an hour with overtime.”

The job fair will be held again Tuesday from Noon to 4 p.m. at the county office complex on West Park Place in Pensacola. Applicants need to be at least 18 years old and have proof of citizenship or authorization to work in U.S. They must also have a valid driver’s license and a safe driving record. A vehicle and proof of insurance are also required. 

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.