Crumbling road causes safety concerns

First responders are worried about the crumbling road and their ability to render aid in an emergency.
Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 6:03 PM EST
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CULLODEN, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Worsening winter weather has one road in Cabell County caving under the pressure, and residents are worried that each day that passes without repair leads them one step closer to danger.

“It started out as just a little hole right on the edge, and now it’s grown all over past the center line of the road,” said Rodney Shirkey.

Shirkey is the Chief of the Culloden Volunteer Fire Department. He’s been battling flames since 1991, but crumbling road conditions can make his job incredibly difficult.

“When a house is on fire or apartments on fire, time is a necessity,” Shirkey said. “We got to get there as safely and quickly as we can.”

Neighbors tell WSAZ the road has been collapsing for several weeks. They believe it is owned and maintained by the Culloden Green Apartment complex, which is managed by Woda Cooper Companies. They own properties in Huntington and Barboursville, as well as in Prestonsburg, Grayson, Raceland and Louisa in eastern Kentucky. The complex is home to about 40, one- or two-bedroom apartments. Property managers told Shirkey they’re waiting on repair estimates.

“It’s a bad situation all the way around, it needs to be fixed and fixed quick,” he said.

Reporter Kelsey Souto contacted Cabell County EMS Director Gordon Merry. He said he wasn’t aware of the road slip but would send someone to the area to check it out. That way crews are prepared in case of an emergency.

Time is not on their side. Residents say intense winter weather is only making the problem worse, causing the road to deteriorate even faster. More cracks and crevices and dips appear each day. The unsteady nature of the pavement is a concern for first responders rushing to the scene.

“You’re hampering lifesaving efforts from police, fire, EMS, just to get into the apartments and the subdivision there,” he said.

Alternate routes add precious minutes to their response time -- seconds they can’t afford to spare.

“Buildings and stuff can be replaced. Human life cannot, and I don’t want it to come to that,” he said.

It’s a hole, leaving an entire community on edge, hoping someone soon will help them dig their way out and get back on solid ground.

Woda Cooper Companies corporate office is located in Columbus, Ohio.

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