First, the facts as we know them.
On September 16, 2020 Skanska USA Civil Southeast Inc., failed to secure no less than 22 out of 55 barges at and around the 3-Mile Bridge job site in Pensacola Bay ahead of Hurricane Sally. The loose barges washed all over the bay; twelve onto private property (including yards, roads, and one golf course), while three were still lodged under the bridge. At least seven bridge spans are damaged, repair timeline unknown but it’ll be more than two months. Among other damage done, a local oyster farm that was properly secured was run down by at least one barge, causing losses of 800,000 oysters. The grower’s looking at over $500,000 in damages and over a year before he’ll have oysters ready for sale again. Local oysters in restaurants were a major tourist draw, so this affects much more than just his business.
Even just counting the bridge… it’s a crucial traffic artery. Over 55,000 vehicles use the 3-Mile Bridge daily to commute to jobs, homes, and businesses. In a tourist area that’s already been hit hard by coronavirus restrictions, this may be straw, camel for a lot of people.
Many, many people have tried to get some answers about why this happened and what to do about the friggin’ barge in their front yard. Skanska’s not talking.
IMHO, they didn’t stop talking soon enough.
As I mentioned in a previous post, a company representative is already on record with the local news as saying they’d secured things for 30 MPH winds, and “would have needed 4 to 5 days to prepare” for Sally. That might actually fly with a judge that has been living under a rock and doesn’t realize that once a hurricane hits the tip of Florida (as Sally did that Friday, 5 days in advance) it can go anywhere in the Gulf.
Hurricanes are not the only weather patterns here that get past 30 MPH.
If you know Texas and the Great Plains you likely know about blue northers. They don’t just stop at the Texas border. Granted, by the time they crash down the Gulf Coast they usually only drop the temperature 10 to 15 F instead of 20+, but they come – and they drag a heck of a lot of bad weather with them.
60+ MPH wind gusts out of thunderstorm lines are normal around here. We’re not even talking the microbursts that can be mistaken for mini-tornadoes. Winds past – very very far past – 30 MPH are common, whenever we get a cold front through. And you can’t predict when those will hit with more than… oh, about three days’ warning, reliably.
Meaning whoever that rep was admitted on camera and live interview that they were not prepared for the area’s normal severe weather conditions.
Oh yeah. The lawyers are going to have a field day.