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Washed out road making life more difficult for community in Alexander City

Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 9:16 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 15, 2022 at 10:28 AM CDT
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ALEXANDER CITY, Ala. (WBRC) - Trash days used to be a chore, but now they’re nearing an impossibility for people living on Amber Hill Road in Alexander City.

Neighbors Wyatt Dunsieth and Kenneth Hammond drive their trash down to the end of the road, load it into carts and haul it across a creek and through the woods to another car. They load the bags into the car, then follow the dirt road to AL Highway 128, where their garbage cans are waiting on the other side of Amber Hill Road.

The whole process from start to finish takes about 30 minutes.

“That’s my biggest issue right there, the pain to do everything,” said Kenneth Hammond, out of breath.

It’s a pain, but there’s no other way.

Their road washed out in September, and the only other road out of their neighborhood was recently closed by the property owner. ”We can’t get out unless we walk,” said Wyatt Dunsieth.

They can’t get any help getting the road fixed, either. The road is private so the residents are responsible for repairs, but Dunsieth said this washout was not an accident.

“Alexander City Water Department bent the pipe and close our flow down and that’s when it started backing up. We’ve had trouble ever since they’ve been out here.”

The water department was out in February 2021 fixing a nearby water pipe. Dunsieth said some of the excavated dirt was blocking the culvert under their road.

“When they reached in and dip the mud out, that’s when they, I heard the rip of the pipe. And I actually said something to one of the workers, I said, ‘It sounded like he hit the pipe but I hope not.’ And then of course, we didn’t think nothing else about it.”

Dunsieth said they didn’t think about the night in February until May, when the field next to their road filled up with water. ”Ever since the pipe got damaged, the waters been backing up more and more, until it blowed [sic] the road out,” said Dunsieth.

Dunsieth said he tried to get help from the city, but Mayor Woody Baird said the water department isn’t responsible.

“We interviewed the excavator operator, he said he never hit the pipe. I believe my guys,” said Mayor Woody Baird.

He added,Our position is this: it is a private road. It was constructed as a private road. It was constructed with private funds. It was not built to standard. All they did was slap a culvert in the ditch, which they never checked rain flows or anything else, and they just put whatever size culvert in there they stuck in there. They used it until we had this huge rain event that washed it out. We don’t feel like we’re liable for the washout. We find no reason.”

Dunsieth and his neighbors don’t have the money for a lawyer to challenge the city’s assessment, or to repair the road. Some estimates are $10,000.

They’re also exhausted trying to get off their unwanted island, especially Hammond, who is a disabled veteran.

“If something doesn’t get done pretty soon, I don’t know what we’re going to do. I’m just being honest with you. I mean what are we going to do? Just sit up here and die?” Dunsieth added, “I hardly sleep some nights thinking about it… but there’s nothing we can do. That’s the reason I reached out, to see if we can get some help.”

The residents have started a GoFundMe and are hoping to raise enough money to repair the road.

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