Family left stranded after bridge to their home is destroyed

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RHODELL, WV (WVNS) — A family in Raleigh County was left nearly stranded after the bridge to their property collapsed.

James and Charlotte Powell lived in Rhodell their whole lives. Now retired, the couple looks after their great grandchildren.

Their only path in and out of town was destroyed after a Rhodell Volunteer Fire Department truck caused the bridge to collapse. Now, taking care of their great-grandchildren is a more difficult task.

“If the water is up, I can’t get them to school. Groceries, I go down the road to get them, but I gotta park my truck right there and carry it across this creek. It’s a whole lot easier to carry it across the creek than to climb these ladders. We’ve already tried everything, there’s no other way out of here,” James explained.

Their great-grandson began first grade last week, and they are worried about having to get him across the creek to go to and from school. To make matters worse, both James’ wife and great-granddaughter suffer from health issues.

“My girl, she broke her leg, she’s got an iron plate in it. She has a doctor’s appointment, we couldn’t get out to get it taken out. She had a dentist appointment, we couldn’t get out. My wife can’t even go to the doctor, she can’t get out, she can’t even walk,” said James.

The Powell family said they are not angry at the fire department. They understand accidents happen, but they just want someone to help them. James said he is so desperate to solve the problem, he is willing to build a new bridge himself if someone provides the materials.

“We’ve worked all of our life, me and him both. I think we deserve a little help from the state or the county to get a bridge over here,” Charlotte said.

Getting a new bridge will not be a simple or inexpensive task. The property the bridge used to stand on belongs to the Pocahontas Land Company. Both the family and the Rhodell Volunteer Fire Department cannot do anything without the company’s help.

“They said its not their problem, so I don’t know what to do. Someone’s got to get me some help,” said James.

59News reached out to the Pocahontas Land Company, but have not heard back.

While this accident caused a lot of damage for the Powell family, it also created a number of problems for the Rhodell Volunteer Fire Department.

Twice a year, the Rhodell Volunteer Fire Department tests the water pressure of the fire hydrants in their area. One of these hydrants is located on the Powell’s property.

Fire and EMS Coordinator Michael Holshouser said they took their mini pumper rescue truck over the bridge, which is a trip they make every year. On the way back, the bridge collapsed.

No one in the truck got hurt, but part of the truck was destroyed. While this is a setback for the fire department, Holshouser said their main concern is making sure the Powell family receives the help they need.

“We’ve offered help getting their groceries into them or whatever they’ve needed, transporting the children, or whatever they need to take care of life. We’ve told them that we are their for them,” Holshouser explained.

The Rhodell Volunteer Fire Department already has a plan in place to ensure the firefighters can provide emergency medical services to the Powell Family if needed.

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