Woman Says She was Punished for Not Showing Up to Work During Hurricane

A DSS worker was suspended for trying to stay safe.

Bamberg County, SC (WLTX) - A South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) worker was suspended just last month and is out of almost a week's worth of pay because she didn't report to an assignment during Hurricane Matthew.

“I couldn't get out, it was just trees in the way,” Bamberg County DSS Administrative Assistant Edrie Breeland explained. "You want me to risk my life? And they told me they didn't care."

Breeland was penalized for not reporting to shelter duty during the deadly hurricane. Breeland said it was way too dangerous for her to travel.

"Didn't show no compassion whatsoever, what kind of agency is that?" the DSS worker said passionately.

DSS did not talk on camera but told us in a statement, “In the event of a disaster, DSS is designated as the lead agency for coordinating mass care operations."

Breeland got a call the evening of October 4th to report to shelter duty the next day on October 5th.

“I stayed until about 6:30 p.m., because the weather was getting so bad,” Breeland said. 

She left to secure her home against the hurricane.

"I know our road conditions out here and I only had one way in and one way out, and previously we had had flooded where it just become unbearable to drive,” Breeland said.
 
She was suspended for four days without pay just last month for missing shelter duty.

“I explain to you my road conditions and everything and other people can vouch for the conditions out here, and it still didn't do anything,” Breeland said. “I just think it’s not fair.”

Breeland says she is going to appeal her suspension.

DSS sent the following statement regarding the situation: 

"During an emergency or disaster, such as a hurricane or ice storm, the staff at South Carolina Department of Social Services provides immediate support to South Carolina citizens. In the event of a disaster, DSS is designated as the lead agency for coordinating mass care operations. In particular, DSS works with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, DHEC and other state agencies and volunteer relief organizations in disaster situations to coordinate the capability to meet basic human needs (shelter, food, bulk distribution of emergency relief supplies, disaster welfare inquiries, and emergency social services) during a disaster situation. DSS provides staff to support the operation of shelters across the state. As a result, many DSS employees have included in their position descriptions a requirement to staff shelters in the event of a disaster. Staff who fail to complete a job duty on their position description, including the failure to staff a shelter, may receive disciplinary action consistent with DSS policy."

© 2017 WLTX-TV


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