Local lawmaker wants to help family affected by bridge collapse

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(WVNS) — 59News is continuing to follow the story of a bridge collapse in Raleigh County, which left a family living nearly stranded. Now, a local lawmaker is trying to find solutions to prevent this from happening to more families.

While West Virginia is home to a handful of big cities, the state is filled with small towns, rich in history. Towns which Delegate Brandon Steele(R – Raleigh, 29) believed helped build this country.

“I’ve often said about Rhodell, without Rhodell coal, Pittsburgh is just a cow pasture,” Steele said.

Steele represents the 29th District of Raleigh County in the West Virginia House of Delegates. He said he wants to make sure the people in these towns are not forgotten.

“It’s a totally different world. They can feel kind of isolated, feel kind of forgotten, and one of the jobs I have as their legislator is that I represent them just as much as I do Mabscott and Crab Orchard,” said Steele.

Steele said nearly every month he receives calls from people who are left stranded by collapsed bridges. Most of these bridges are owned by private companies, and those who are suffering feel helpless.

“We are in a situation where typically a bridge is something that the government takes care of, but in this situation it’s not. This is something that has gone on for years in southern West Virginia,” said Steele.

On September 14, 2020 we brought you the story of the Powell family in Rhodell. They are the most recent family to be left nearly stranded after the bridge to their home collapsed.

“We have an elderly couple raising their grandchildren and they are trapped, and we want to do everything we can to help them,” Steele explained.

Steele said he is in the very early stages of working on legislation focused on this issue for the upcoming legislative session. He said he is reaching out to government officials and organizations to find someone other than the private owner of the bridge to solve the problem.

“Cause it’s going to keep reoccurring and we are going to keep having people that don’t have access to the rest of the world because of this private bridge situation. So, I’m rather hopeful we can come up with a solution,” Steele explained.

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