Ingenuity allows family to leave home after bridge washed away

GREENSBURG, LA (WAFB) - Rain is one reason a St. Helena Parish couple is having a big problem getting to and from their home. A bridge that's about a mile down their driveway washed out, leaving them practically stranded.

Since the big rainstorms in early January, the Bridges Family has been dealing with the problem. Workers with the parish brought out new culverts, but they are having trouble getting them installed. Luckily, Mr. Bridges came up with a creative but temporary solution.

Wiley and Martha Bridges enjoy the simple things in life. They are raising chickens and roosters, rabbits as well. They call it country living at its best.

It's the trek to town, where things get a little muddy.

Wiley Bridges can't use his truck to get from his house, to the road they live on because heavy rains washed out the bridge that's part of his driveway. So instead, you can hear the hum of a three-wheeler, that's how he gets around part of the way.

He says the parish did filled in some dirt, after the rains in January. But it too washed away.

"It was caving off in three foot slabs. The culvert collapsed. I hurried to get my truck out, otherwise we would be totally stranded," said Bridges.

He now uses the three-wheeler to drive eight-tenths of a mile, to a foot bridge that he built. He walks across that to reach his truck.

"That's the only way across."

Before, his wife says, he had rigged up a rope to shimmy down one side, wade through the water and used another rope to climb up to his truck.

He has done it all, at almost 70 years old.

"Gets to you after a while," he says. "Especially when you can't get any answers."

Bridges says the parish did bring in new culverts, but he was told they do not have the equipment to finish the job.

To top if off, he's worried help may not be able to reach them in an emergency. Especially his wife, who's had a stroke.

"EMS can't get there," he says. "If they had a helicopter with two chopping blades on it, they can get there."

Bridges says he's tried calling for help, but just can't get any answers.

"Called Governor's office, his aide called me back and gave me two numbers. One for Homeland Security and one for the department of highways. They told me they don't loan any equipment on parish roads."

So, he says he'll continue using his obstacle course until someone can give him a time frame of when the work on the bridge will start.

The Department of Transportation & Development says the culvert is outside of the state right of way, so the parish would need to take care of the problem. A worker with the St. Helena Public Works says she put in a work order Monday morning, when Mr. Bridges called to ask what is being done.

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