Rain washes away couple’s only way in and out

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 2, 2004

Warren County Deputy Bo McLeod, from left, Sherri Hughes and Sheriff Martin Pace discuss the best options for Hughes and Geoff Giddins, who were trapped at their house after major rains caused their private road, off Bud Martin Road, to wash away Thursday.(Jon Giffin The Vicksburg Post)

[7/2/04]A Warren County couple was stranded Thursday on their property after rainwater running off a hillside collapsed the only route leading to the house.

“We have no road to drive on,” said Sherri Hughes, who rents the home at 104 Twin Oaks Place, off Bud Martin Road. She, her daughter, Jessica, and her boyfriend, Geoff Giddins, were packing and loading a rental van getting ready to move when they noticed that part of the mostly dirt road had disappeared.

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The washout followed storms that dumped 11.31 inches in Warren County in June, breaking a 95-year-old record and establishing a new all-time record.

On Thursday, 1.43 more inches of rain fell in Warren County, and forecasters said there’s a 50-50 chance for more rain today and Saturday, dropping to 20 percent for Sunday and Monday.

Storms this week left Warren Central High School’s roof and gym floor damaged and have plagued the city and county with power outages and downed trees.

When Hughes realized that she wouldn’t be able to leave, she called Warren County Road Department to see if they could help.

“It’s a private road, so the county is not responsible to repair it,” she said. The property is owned by the Atlanta-based company Greenpoint Credit.

When Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace and Deputy Bo McLeod arrived on the property, about 2 feet of the road was still intact, and Hughes and her family could have left.

“There is nothing we can do but offer to help get the people out,” Pace said. “We can’t get emergency vehicles in, and they can’t get out.”

As the deputies looked on, the road collapsed, leaving a gaping hole about 10 feet long and 12 feet deep, and water gushed from a nearby ditch.

“The way the water is crashing down, there is no way to survive if someone falls down there,” Pace said.

Pace said if the family chooses to leave, it will have to be through a back route and it will have to be on foot. A steep, water-soaked hill leads to another driveway north of the home, but Pace said vehicles could not make the trek.

For now, Hughes and her family plan to stay put they have electricity and food and most of their belongings are still in their Twin Oaks home while waiting on word from the property owners about repairs.