PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Skanska, the company in charge of building the Pensacola Bay Bridge, confirmed to WKRG News 5 Wednesday 22 barges were washed away from the bridge construction site during Hurricane Sally.
Skanska said 12 of the construction barges were washed onto private property. At least one of the barges is responsible for knocking out sections of the Pensacola Bay Bridge, also known as the Three Mile Bridge. It could take months to reopen.
Skanska told WKRG News 5 it did all it could to secure the barges before the storm hit, and it was unfortunate the barges caused so much damage.
It released this statement regarding the runaway barges:
“Skanska remains dedicated to the safe and prompt retrieval of our construction barges. At this time, Skanska believes it has made contact with a majority of the property owners who either have barges resting on their properties or have received damage associated with barges coming ashore. We are encouraging anyone who believes their property was damaged by Skanska’s barges or other equipment during Hurricane Sally that the company has not yet reached to please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Skanska has dispatched a community outreach team who will be guiding property owners throughout the barge retrieval and insurance process. We recognize this is a major event that has our full attention, and we are putting the full resources of the company to forward to address it as quickly and safely as possible.”
Miriam Breeden, who owns a home on Bayshore Drive, is one of those currently affected by the barges. One of them, massive in size, hit her home during Hurricane Sally.
Breeden said the barge knocked out her dock and caused damage to the seawall, possibly creating foundation issues.
As of Wednesday morning, she hadn’t heard from Skanska.
“It was terrifying to see it,” she said. “We have no idea if it has compromised the structure of the house.”
It was an unreal experience for Breeden.
“I felt like I was transported to somewhere else because it’s not in my wildest dreams I would expect to see a massive barge parked in my house,” she said.
About a mile away, Scott Georges home on Bayshore Lane was spared from the barge sitting in the bay nearby. Georges said he is lucky his home wasn’t damaged.
“It just shows the power of nature and how awesome nature is and what it can do to something as big as that barge,” Georges said.
Breeden said she hopes Skanska is held accountable.
“I would like for them to come and tell me, ‘I am sorry.’ That everything is going to be OK. That they are going to fix it. That they are going to do the right thing,” she said. “They have to be responsible for it. They have to pay for what they did.”
Attorneys at the Levin Papantonio law firm in Pensacola plan to file several individual lawsuits against Skanska soon.
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