IRON STATION, N.C. -- Amity Lane near Iron Station has a big problem – a very big problem.
That problem is about 20 feet wide and 20 feet deep, and it’s sitting in the only road out of the Trinity Farms neighborhood.
“There's a big hole in the road,” said Debbie Whitley, who lives on the other side of the hole. “In fact, there's no road. It's cut in half.”
(Click here to view photos from the scene)
Friday night’s storms in the Lincoln County town pushed drain pipes for a creek under Amity Lane downstream, and the gravel road collapsed into the creek. Nearly 30 families are trapped on the other side.
“We're held hostage by the road,” said Whitley.
A makeshift bridge of fallen trees and 2x4’s allows residents to walk across the creek at a narrow point. Whitley, who can barely walk after back surgery, won’t risk it.
She said many of the people trapped behind the bridge are elderly or have health problems that would make the walk difficult.
Lincoln County and NC Emergency Management workers checked out the problem Saturday afternoon, along with a county commissioner and interim County Manager Martha Lide.
They realized they couldn’t help.
“This road is a privately-owned road and the responsibility for maintenance of this road rests with the owners of the property that border the road,” said Lide. “The deeds are very specific.”
NBC Charlotte looked at one resident’s deed. It reads, “..maintenance and repair of such private streets shall be the responsibility of the owners” and costs would be shared by homeowners on each street.
Lide said homeowners had been trying for years to get the county to take over maintenance of the roads in Trinity Farms, but with no luck. Lide said Lincoln County does not have a roads department.
Liz Hudson, who is also trapped on the other side of the creek, agreed that the road is property owners’ responsibility. But she said the gaping hole in the road is beyond anything they can afford to fix.
“We have maintained it, we haven't asked for anything,” pleaded Hudson. “This is an emergency.”
The Forest Service will put metal skids across the foot bridge Sunday, and create a temporary road so residents can drive their cars out.
Two weeks later, another temporary foot bridge will take its place.
A property owner adjacent to the neighborhood has agreed to let emergency vehicles use his property in emergencies, but no day-to-day driving.
Lide said it will be up to the residents to fix the hole, which could cost $50,000 or more.
Whitley doesn’t know how that’s going to happen.
“It's up to us,” she said, “and I don't have the money to fix it.”
A resident tells NBC Charlotte that authorities will only allow the makeshift ramp to remain in place through Tuesday.