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Walton County residents left temporarily stranded after bridge washout

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 5:15 PM CDT
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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -

Imagine being stranded in your own neighborhood. That was the reality for some Walton County residents last week at the hands of Hurricane Sally.

What was supposed to connect an entire neighborhood is now split in half.

“Mother Nature just swept through and did all the excavation kind of on an unplanned basis," Sugarwood Beach Homeowners Association President John Harlow said.

There is one road that gets residents in and out of the Sugarwood Beach neighborhood.

That one road includes a bridge; a bridge already under construction to address flooding issues.

“They closed half the road, dug up that half and were in the process of placing new, much, much larger box culverts in. And in the middle of that, the storm came," Harlow said.

With Hurricane Sally came high rising floodwaters.

“The water was over the road, over what was left of the culverts, everything. And at the end of it, we have a nice gorge that goes all the way across where the road used to be," Harlow said.

Those waters washed out the road, leaving residents on the north side of the neighborhood, like Gary Wingo, stranded.

“It was kind of a curious feeling being stuck in your own neighborhood where everything else is fine in the area," Sugarwood Beach resident Gary Wingo said.

Residents said they weren’t stranded for long though.

The county was fast-acting, creating a brand new road off 395 through the woods and into a culdesac.

“They did great. We were a little surprised but deeply thankful that the guys jumped on it," Wingo said.

Although the new road was completed nearly two days later, residents were concerned for the time being they were left without a way out, or others a way in.

“While we had that 48-hour outage, we were just super lucky that nobody had an emergency," Harlow said.

Residents also said the fire department has come onto the new road and checked it out to make sure their trucks can drive through it.

Now they’re focusing on the complete rebuilding of the bridge.

Wingo calls the washout, a blessing in disguise.

“We believe they’ll do this culvert rework much better and a more full project that will be advantageous for the neighborhood," Wingo said.

Walton County officials said they do not have an exact date for when the project will be done.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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