2 dead, 20 missing in Haywood County NC flooding; river rose nearly 8 feet
At least two people have died and roughly 20 others in a western North Carolina county remain unaccounted for following Tuesday’s catastrophic flooding, according to emergency officials.
Gov. Roy Cooper and Sen. Thom Tillis will be in Haywood County on Thursday to tour the flood-damaged area.
Allison Richmond with Haywood County Emergency Services said the list of people had changed throughout the day as some were found safe and others were added when loved ones called in.
On Thursday, Richmond provided an update, saying two people were found dead during overnight searches. Their names have not been released.
He also said more than 200 searchers were looking for about 20 people still unaccounted for. Several people were determined to be safe and reunited with their families.
The Town of Canton is asking everyone to avoid the downtown area as crews work to clear streets and organize search efforts. According to officials, extra traffic may hinder active search and rescue operations.
Anyone interested in assisting in the search and rescue process is asked to hold off joining until officials can fully assess the situation.
Richmond said more search teams set off Thursday morning on missions to continue looking home to home along the Pigeon River, clearing areas and making preliminary assessments of damage. Ground, aerial (drone), and swift water rescue teams are also continuing search efforts.
WLOS reported that the town’s water filter plant is back online and producing water but that officials are asking that everyone conserve water to allow the reservoirs to fill. A Boil Water Advisory is in effect in the town until further notice.
According to WLOS, Haywood County Schools confirmed that four students were unable to return home Tuesday night after the storms.
School officials confirmed they were in contact with the parents and students throughout the night and put in place plans to reunite the families on Wednesday. Officials have set up emergency shelters in schools and a church in town.
All residents are being asked to avoid the Cruso and Canton areas as they are unsafe and additional traffic may hinder active search and rescue operations. Richmond said there is significant damage to roads and bridges, especially in Cruso, with at least 10-15 bridges damaged or destroyed.
Cooper held a news conference Wednesday where he said he has declared a State of Emergency for any area where search-and-rescue efforts are ongoing.
A helpline is in place for anyone needing assistance related to the storm. The helpline number is 828-356-2022. The hours of operation are from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Types of assistance available through the helpline:
- Missing person information
- Food, housing assistance
- Special needs assistance
- Volunteer or donation opportunities
- Other storm-related needs
A temporary medical clinic has been established in the little gym at the Canton Middle School.
The Town of Canton reportedly sent residents the following message:
“This is a message from the Town of Canton with several important updates for everyone. First, we are asking everyone to avoid the Downtown Canton area for the safety of all.
We cannot get the streets cleaned and ready to open if we are continuously trying to control traffic. Please avoid all streets downtown. With that said, all downtown streets going both directions are closed, all side streets leading into town are closed, 19/23 in both directions to the Buncombe County line are closed, and Rhoda St. is closed until further notice.
The water filter plant is back online and producing water and we are asking that everyone conserve water at this time to allow the reservoirs to fill. We also ask that if anyone sees a water line leak to please report to the police department at 828-648-2376. The boil water advisory is in effect until further notice. All town facilities are closed until further notice.
We do want to assure our citizens that the police and fire departments are fully operational and are ready to assist in emergency situations.
This is a very difficult time for everyone involved so we ask that everyone use extreme caution and patience during this time.
First Baptist Church in Canton- 74 Academy Street- is open for shelter. The church is also serving a spaghetti dinner tonight starting at 4:00pm for anyone who needs it.”