CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Crumbling roads and slipping hillsides are wreaking havoc with travel and keeping some people from their homes in Southern West Virginia.
The state Department of Transportation has come up with a plan to help the Logan County families affected by a mudslide that has blocked access to their homes in a small community near Neibert.
The residents of the 40 or so homes along Madison Creek Road have been prevented from getting home since the mountain along the road began to slide late last week. Some voluntarily evacuated earlier this week and were ferried across the Guyandotte River. Others have opted to remain stranded in their homes.
Heavy rains and weather caused the hillside to begin to slide last Friday. It continued Sunday and Monday.
Transportation engineers on Thursday came up with a plan to provide residents with a drivable path to and from their homes by Christmas, said Carrie Bly, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman.
"This is just a horrible time of the year for this to happen," Bly said. "So we need to get them access, at least temporary access, as soon as we can."
Engineers plan to push the remaining debris down the hill onto the road, where it will form a hump or small hill. Residents will then be able to drive over it.
Bly said the plan would involve a method used by some strip mine operations where a bulldozer is tethered to another bulldozer that is over a hillside pushing material down.
She called it an "intricate, complicated, scary, dangerous kind of thing," but said the department is going to great lengths to do it. The hillside, which has been unstable since Friday's initial slide, will be stabilized by this action, she said.
The residents in that area will begin to see things moving in the next few days.
That solution is temporary, she said, and will only be in place until engineers finish a temporary causeway over the Guyandotte between Madison Creek Road and Neibert Bottom Road.
Officials said Wednesday that the causeway, a low-river bridge, was the best option to get people to and from their homes. Once the causeway is completed -- an action expected to take several weeks -- Madison Creek Road will be shut down again.
Officials are still working on a permanent solution for Madison Creek Road.