8 weeks later, single mom still waiting for first unemployment check

Panama City restaurant server filed for benefits in March

Vivian Cribbs has a 6-year-old daughter who really doesn’t understand why her mom is constantly calling the Department of Economic Opportunity.

“We need help," Cribbs said. “There’s plenty of other people in the same situation.”

Cribbs was furloughed from her server position at the Saltwater Grill in Panama City Beach on March 19. She said she filed for unemployment benefits the next day, yet she is still waiting for financial relief.

“They said they received my identification and said my application was being processed but that was seven weeks ago,” a frustrated Cribbs told News 6. “I’ve borrowed all that I can borrow. I’ve pawned all that I can pawn.”

Her 18-year-old son works at the same restaurant and lost his job the same week, that forced him out of his apartment and back home.

“So now we have both of our car payments, both of our bills and no income to pay with,” she said. “All my bills are past due.”

The restaurant opened for business again on Monday but Cribbs and her son have not been scheduled for work yet.

“From what I understand, we’re kind of running the first week very bare minimum and they will disperse hours as best they can. They haven’t even reached out to me about hours yet,” she said.

News 6 contacted Panama City State Sen. George Gainer to present Cribb’s benefits issue.

Gainer’s staff members responded immediately and said they are investigating the case.

Cribbs said she has tried to shield her 6-year-old from the unemployment drama and she is hopeful this will be sorted out soon.

“All I can do is pray,” she said. "There’s nowhere to turn, nothing left, there’s nowhere to go.”

If you want to help someone like Cribbs or want to share a story, email mholfeld@wkmg.com

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