Hurricane Michael caused severe damage to neighborhoods and businesses in the panhandle area, and reinforcements were sent to help the area get back on its feet.
A group of three from Quincy and Mobile signed up to help with hurricane relief efforts in Panama City after seeing an online job posted on the staffing agency website People Ready.
The relief group said the company gave them each a debit card and told them will receive payment everyday on the card, but that has not been the case. Enjeh Richardson and his friends took the job posted by staffing agency, but it's been hard work and hardly any pay.
"I feel like I am really being slaved,” Richardson said. “I don't feel like an American citizen right now. After we get done working, we are going back home with no pay.”
Nearly a week has gone by and they haven't seen any cash since last Wednesday when Richardson went the staffing agency office and demanded answers. He wants the company held accountable.
“They gave us a little pay like $100 for a day of work, the amount of work we were doing it should have been way more,” Richardson explained. “I was also promised more hours and had to demand those too.”
Richardson’s friends returned back to Mobile, but he says he cannot because he desperately needs the money. The groups were not able to get a hotel since they are not getting paid and they have resorted to driving back and forth every day because of the terrible conditions
"I really want to go home but I know I have a family and I don't want to give up, so that pushes me to keep going even if I have to spend gas money every day to go back and forth,” Richardson continued. “I am sleeping in my car sometimes and on my sofa because it’s closer to the door and I am here every day on time. I don't clock out until it's time to clock out. It's really a stressful situation.”
People Ready representative Jack Hughes responded to allegations that workers have not been paid.
“We apologize for any hardships the employees had endured,” Hughes said. “We do admit we were a few days late on this payment.”
Another Quincy resident, Robert Anderson said that he spent hours cleaning the Panama City Beach Boardwalk and that police have run them off due to the strict curfew in place. Despite these challenges, Anderson is trying to make the best out of the situation
"We are taking out the glass, debris from the houses, moving the trash, putting everything in plastic and containing everything trying to get the city back to where it needs to be," Anderson revealed. "There are a lot of people going through the same situation as me and we just try to stick together and keep pushing.”
Initially, People Ready couldn’t respond immediately and told employees to contact corporate for better answers as they were running from generators. Richardson and Anderson have now been paid for their cleanup efforts.