Russell County

Family looking for help after storm washes away bridge

RUSSELL COUNTY, Virginia - "It's a mess and I'm just at odds. I don't know what to do," said Clifford Williams, looking at the gap where his bridge used to stand.

On Thursday, his wife left to go to work and hit a dead end on Laurel Branch Road. "She left the house at 2 p.m. and the next thing I know she's back at the door and says 'you know our bridge? It's gone,'" he said.

The flood on the night of Wednesday, January 30 washed away their only way on and off their 15-acre property in Honaker. Williams said they are isolated and stranded. "Basically, I'm scared. If something happens, I virtually have no way out of here," he explained.

Williams said they can get to another road, but it's a dangerous hike. "You have to go through the woods to State Route 634 and have someone waiting to pick you up," he said. "It's pretty rough terrain including fallen timbers, up and down and slanted."

When it comes to getting food, Williams said they can only shop for a little bit. "We run to the store for a few light things at a time and backpack through the woods."

The bridge was made of culvert pipes covered with dirt and rocks. It wasn't insured. "I know it wouldn't be cheap. I have no idea where I would come up with the money to get it," Williams said.

Russell County Department of Emergency Management Director Jess Powers said the county can't help them rebuild. "Because this is a private bridge and not used for public transportation, our hands are tied," he told us.

That also means they can't use funds from FEMA or the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Now Williams is looking for a helping hand. "I'm not asking for a hand out, just a hand up. If someone would help us out one way or another," he said. "I'm at the end of my rope. I just pray somebody will help."

If you would like to help, please contact Jess Powers, Russell County Department of Emergency Management Director:

Physical address: 656 Clydesway Drive, Suite A
Mailing address: P.O. Box 997
Lebanon, VA 24266
T: (276) 889-8146 or (276) 889-8247; F: (276) 889-8248
Mobile: (276) 701-9775; Dispatch: (276) 889-8033

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