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UPDATE: Two dead, 20 missing as search continues for people trapped by flooding in western NC

UPDATE: Two dead, 20 missing as search continues for people trapped by flooding in western NC

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AccuWeather's Jillian Angeline was live in Waynesville on Aug. 18 as crews continued to search for dozens of people reported missing after heavy flooding nearby.

Two people are confirmed dead and 20 remain missing as searches continue in flood-damaged Haywood County, in the mountains of western North Carolina.

The identities of the two dead have not been released.

Both were found overnight and the bodies were sent to a medical examiner for identification, according to a news release from Haywood County Emergency Services.

“Over 200 searchers set off today on missions to continue searching home to home along the Pigeon River, clearing areas and making preliminary assessments of damage,” the county said.

“Ground, aerial (drone), and swift water rescue teams are continuing intensive search efforts today.”


U.S. 276 in Haywood County, North Carolina.

The number of missing dropped by 15 overnight after “several people were determined to be safe and reunited with their families.”

County officials report their efforts to find people are hampered by “significant damage to roads and bridges, especially in Cruso, with at least 10-15 bridges damaged or destroyed.”

Nearly a dozen people are staying in an emergency shelter, officials said.

NCDOT Fred flooding

The N.C. Department of Transportation posted this photo from Canton. Haywood and Transylvania counties saw some of the worst flooding. 

The flooding was caused Tuesday by remnants of Tropical Storm Fred. Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Wednesday and noted both Haywood and Transylvania counties “were especially hard hit,” with as much as a foot of rain.

“Unconfirmed reports” in some communities put water levels at “3 to 7 feet higher than their previous high watermark,” Cooper said at a Wednesday press conference.

There were 98 rescues during the storm, Cooper said.

Cell service was out in the county, and there are “widespread water outages” due to waterline breaks and the Canton water plant going offline.

Fred, while "only a tropical storm" in the eyes of many as it approached, brought torrential rain to areas already deeply saturated, causing flooding from Florida to North Carolina to Pennsylvania.


Multiple parts of Blue Ridge Parkway impassable in NC due to mudslides, storm debris

9:20 A.M.: Multiple sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway are closed in western North Carolina due to fallen trees, mudslides and storm debris, according to the National Park Service.

The damage was caused by remnants of Tropical Storm Fred, which dumped up to a foot of rain on mountain counties Tuesday.

Parkway officials shared a photo that showed large trees in the roadway, after they slid over the pavement on a carpet of mud at Milepost 369.

“Scenes like this one ... met our staff across much of the Parkway in North Carolina earlier today,” the park wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.

“Some areas of the motor road in North Carolina, particularly south of Mt. Pisgah, still remain closed. A few facilities along the route are also without power, so expect those closures to remain in effect until power is restored.”

Water levels in the Pisgah National Forest hit extremely high levels on Aug. 17 as torrential rain from what remained of Tropical Storm Fred struck the area.

Crews worked through the day Wednesday to clear debris, officials said. But nearly 20 sections of the parkway were listed as closed Thursday morning, most of them on the southern leg of the parkway in North Carolina.

The inaccessible areas include Mount Mitchell State Park, Craggy Gardens Picnic Area, Bull Gap, Craven Gap and Beech Gap, a parkway closures site reports.

The parkway covers 469 miles of “rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands” in western Virginia and North Carolina, according to the National Park Service. The Virginia stretch of the parkway appears to have been spared storm damage.

Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina after the remnants of Fred pushed out of the Gulf of Mexico into the southeast.

Multiple counties in the western North Carolina saw 8 to 12 inches of rain, and the resulting floods washed out roads, damaged bridges and destroyed homes, McClatchy News reported.


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