A rain-swollen creek washed out a section of a dead-end dirt road in west Bibb County Friday night, stranding two families for about a day.
Deidre McKenzie said she watched the roadway, located over a culvert on Pamela Court, wash away about 6 p.m. Friday.
Early Saturday afternoon she stood on the south side of a gap in the road that was about 20 feet across and about 15 feet deep. Access to Lower Thomaston Road and the rest of civilization was to the north. She used a cell phone to speak to a reporter on the other side of the gap.
“There’s no way out, nobody can get through,” said McKenzie, who lives with her husband, her 24-year-old daughter, a 2-year-old grandson and a 3-month-old grandson at 108 Pamela Court. She said there were three other residences on the isolated part of the road, but two of the families were away from home when the road washed away.
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McKenzie said that as soon as the road was damaged she called 911 and was transferred to the Bibb County Sheriff’s Department. She and her husband, James, were disappointed that nobody from the county government came in a timely manner to fix the problem.
A sheriff’s deputy came to inspect the road about 11:18 p.m. Friday. Repair efforts by the county public works department didn’t begin until after Deidre McKenzie called County Commissioner Joe Allen about noon Saturday.
“When I called him he came right away,” Deidre McKenzie said of Allen.
James McKenzie said county employees handled the situation “very shoddily. ... This would not have been handled without the involvement of Commissioner Allen.”
“I think someone dropped the ball,” Allen said as he waited for repair efforts to start Saturday afternoon. “Somebody needs to be held accountable.”
Allen called the public works department Saturday about 12:40 p.m. and repair workers began arriving about a half hour after that. At 3 p.m. the first truckload of dirt was dumped on the road to begin filling in the gap. Public Works Superintendent Cliff Howard estimated that it would take about 30 truckloads.
Howard said the three 48-inch pipes in the culvert can easily get blocked by logs and debris carried downstream. He said the county plans to dig up the culvert and replace the pipes when new pipes become available.
Cliff Stillwell, who lives on the north end of Pamela Court, said this was the third time the culvert has washed out this year.
Major Bob White of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office visited Pamela Court Saturday afternoon as repairs began. He said he would check the department’s phone records to see if proper procedure was followed.