Hurricane debris haulers serve South Florida, snub poorer parts of the state

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says some debris-hauling companies may have violated a state law that prohibits price gouging

Sep.September 24, 2017 10:30 AM

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

Storm debris from Hurricane Irma is piling up in many Florida counties because the companies they hired to remove debris are doing the work for more money in South Florida.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said those companies may be violating a state law that prohibits price gouging. Bondi said Gov. Rick Scott is concerned about debris-hauling companies that are “breaking contracts” with Florida counties.

Officials of six counties – Sarasota, Orange, Manatee, Indian River, Hendry and Alachua – complained to the state government last week about debris-hauling companies working only in South Florida, where they command higher prices.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said South Florida counties are paying as much as double the prices that other counties offer to remove from Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in the Florida Keys on Sept. 10.

Hendry County administrator Charles Chapman said the county contracted with companies to haul debris for $5.50 per cubic yard, but the companies’ subcontractors refuse to do the work unless they get a higher price, perhaps as much as $8 per cubic yard.

But Chapman said Hendry County can’t afford to pay $8 per cubic yard to subcontractors of two debris-hauling companies: Deerfield Beach-based Ashbritt Environmental and Crowder-Gulf, headquartered near Mobile, Alabama.

Sarasota County’s emergency chief Rich Collins said the county is prepared to pay debris haulers $8 per cubic yard, but “they’re going where they can get $15.” [Tampa Bay Times] – Mike Seemuth

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