Press "Enter" to skip to content

2 dead, 20 missing in North Carolina flooding

By Jason Hanna, Dianne Gallagher and Gregory Lemos | CNN

Two people have died and searches for others are underway amid severe flooding in western North Carolina, where the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred swamped or washed away homes and roads, authorities said Thursday.

About 20 people are unaccounted for in Haywood County west of Asheville after Fred slammed the area as a tropical depression on Tuesday, county authorities said.

About 250 rescuers, some using boats and drones, are searching for them in that county, state emergency management officials said. Stunned residents there — as well as badly flooded Transylvania County nearby — are taking stock of a changed landscape.

Rushing floodwater swept away Cheri Mincey’s Haywood County mobile home while she was still in it Tuesday, until it came to rest against a tree, she told CNN affiliate WLOS.

“I lost everything. My clothes, my jewelry, everything,” she told WLOS.

Gov. Roy Cooper declared an emergency Wednesday and planned to visit flood-hit areas Thursday, his office said.

The flooding stemmed from heavy rain — parts of western North Carolina received more than 10 inches from Sunday through Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.

Rain exceeded 5 inches from Monday evening to Tuesday evening alone in the Haywood County community of Canton, the weather service said, swelling the Pigeon River to more than 9 feet above flood stage and the highest level since 2004.

Flooding and washouts have done “significant damage” to Haywood County roads — especially around the community of Cruso — with 10 to 15 bridges damaged or destroyed, the county emergency services department said.

Cruso, about a 30-minute drive southwest of Asheville, “saw some of the worst destruction in Haywood County that I’ve seen in my life,” county Emergency Services Director Travis Donaldson told reporters Thursday in Canton.

State transportation personnel are working to rebuild bridges and roads “so we can get more help to people who truly need it,” Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher said Thursday.

Two people died, the Haywood County emergency services department said Thursday. Their names and information about what lead to their deaths weren’t immediately released.

‘Like a nightmare; like we needed to build an ark’Haywood County authorities started responding to calls about high water Tuesday afternoon — and soon had to help people from their homes, the sheriff said Wednesday.

Several people were located safe and reunited with their families Wednesday, but several others were added to the list of unaccounted for throughout the day following the heavy flooding, officials said.

“As the water level began to rise, a whole lot faster than I have ever saw it rise here in our county, we soon started to have to rescue people from their homes and provide additional assistance to our residents, and to our fire departments,” Christopher said.

In rural Transylvania County, water poured onto Susan Arnold’s front yard “like a rushing river,” and ended up deluging most of her property, she told WLOS.

“Like a nightmare; like we needed to build an ark,” Arnold told WLOS on Wednesday, after water receded and her family set about cleaning the property.

In Canton, a community of about 4,000, floodwater overturned machinery at American Cleaners and left thick mud on the floor, WLOS reported.

“It’s going to take some money from somewhere to help bail us out, because nobody around here can absorb this kind of a loss out of their pocket,” owner Tom Wilson told WLOS on Wednesday.

Mincey, the Haywood County mobile home resident, recalled the moment floodwater carried the home away.

“All of a sudden, I’m floating! I don’t have a steering wheel, I don’t have a brake, I don’t have anything to control it,” Mincey told WLOS,

She called 911, and she was told to stay on the highest piece of furniture. Rescuers retrieved her three hours later, and she stayed Wednesday at a high school gym being used as a shelter, WLOS reported.

A once-in-50-year rainfall rate in CantonThe rainfall rate in Canton exceeded 2.3 inches per hour on Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.

The 5-plus inches of rain that fell in 24 hours there would, in the past, occur only once every 50 years on average, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data.

Rainfall rates, especially in landfalling tropical systems, are increasing due to human-caused climate change, scientists say, as warmer air is capable of holding more water vapor in the atmosphere.

The most recent major report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that “the frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events have increased since the 1950’s over most land area … and human-induced climate change is likely the main driver.”

Fred made landfall as a tropical storm in the Florida Panhandle at Cape San Blas on Monday afternoon with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. It was downgraded to a tropical depression Tuesday morning as it lost strength over land.

Rain in New York and New England on ThursdayFred has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, but the storm still poses a flooding danger for parts of the US Northeast.

The system was raining on parts of New York and New England on Thursday.

About 1 to 5 inches of rain are possible in those areas through Thursday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Flash flood watches or flood warnings were in effect for parts of New York, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Source: Orange County Register

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: