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Searches Continue In Haywood & Transylvania As More Rain Looms

Allen Newland / A Shot Above photo
Canton football stadium flooded on August 17th

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(6:00 p.m. Wednesday)  Emergency crews were still conducting searches for people who remain unaccounted for in both Haywood and Transylvania Counties late Wednesday afternoon, 24 hours after heavy rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred flooded many portions of Western North Carolina.In Haywood County, most of the searches are being conducted in the Cruso and Canton areas.  At a press briefing earlier Wednesday, emergency services director Travis Donaldson said about 30 people were still unaccounted for.  Residents were asked to stay away from Cruso and Canton while those searches continued.  The Pigeon River in Canton rose almost 17 feet in less than 10 hours Tuesday, flooding downtown and surrounding areas.

Graph showing the rise of water levels in the Pigeon River at Canton Tuesday

In neighboring Transylvania County, crews there were looking for campers that were supposed to be located above Daniel's Creek.  Initial damage estimates in the county top $2 million, with 25 structures said to be damaged or uninhabitable, plus 5 roadways with serious damage.  A train trestle in the Pisgah National Forest was moved two feet by floodwaters according to officials.

What has authorities worried now is Thursday's forecast, which calls for thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening.  Forecasted rainfall totals vary.  Parts of Transylvania County have already received more than a foot of rain this week in separate storms Sunday and Tuesday.

(5 p.m. Wednesday) The Haywood County EMS has announced a Tropical Storm Fred Help Line for those in need.

Call 828-356-2022 with questions about missing loved ones and other emergency needs like food and shelter. If you have  immediate life-threatening needs please call 911. 

(2:45 p.m Wednesday) Buncombe County joined its neighbors in Haywood and Transylvania Counties in declaring a state of emergency due to yesterday’s rainfall that caused flooding. 

A flood warning from the National Weather Service remains in effect along the French Broad River through much of Western North Carolina.  The river at Blantyre in Henderson County and Marshall in Madison County is not expected to peak until later this evening.  Both are in the moderate flood level Wednesday afternoon according to National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration data.  Yesterday afternoon, the French Broad almost set a new record level near Rosman in Transylvania County when it passed 14 feet around 5:30 p.m.  The record in that portion of the river is 14.9 feet.

(1:00 p.m. Wednesday) Haywood County emergency authorities are asking people to stay away from the Cruso and Canton areas as they continue to locate people following yesterday's flooding in the area.

At a noon press conference Wednesday, county emergency services head Travis Donaldson estimated there were about 30 people they were still looking for in the Cruso and Canton areas.  State Route 276 is closed there because of flooding and the search efforts.  A shelter has been set up at Tuscola High School for those displaced. 

(10:00 a.m. Wednesday) Emergency crews are assessing damage across Western North Carolina Wednesday morning, after floods ravaged several parts of the area after the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred passed through the region.

Haywood County emergency officials will be holding a press conference at noon to give the latest after the town of Canton sustained damages Tuesday after the Pigeon River flooded.

(8:30 p.m. Tuesday) U.S. 19/23 is closed in both directions due to a landslide near Bridge Road near Canton, and N.C. Department of Transportation officials estimate it could remain that way for the rest of the week.

On the state's real-time traffic website, the state estimates the cleanup of the slide will take until Friday afternoon.  Meanwhile U.S. 64 is closed in both directions in two different places in Henderson County because of flooding - at Pressley Road, and again at Slick Rock Road.

U.S. 70 is closed in both directions in Swannanoa at Warren Wilson Road because of flooding.  The Swannanoa Fire Department and Buncombe County Emergency Services are advising people in the Grovemont Community to stay in place because of the flooding.  Those who need assistance are asked to call the Swannanoa Fire Department's non-emergency line at 828-686-3335.  Elsewhere in Buncombe County, a temporary shelter has been opened at Trinity Baptist Church at 216 Shelburne Street in Asheville.

(7:00 p.m. Tuesday) Haywood County has announced a state of emergency. Haywood County Health and Human Services is updating a list of roads closures because of flooding and slides. This includes I-40 Westbound which is down to one-lane at the 36.5 mile marker.

Those who need to emergency shelter can go to Tuscola High School  (564 Tuscola School Rd, Waynesville, NC 28786) or Canton First Baptist Church  (74 Academy St, Canton, NC 28716).

(6:30 p.m. Tuesday) Emergency crews had to rescue trapped motorists after flooding caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred stranded cars along Smokey Park Highway in Candler.

Fire Departments across Western North Carolina are urging motorists to stay off the roads as much as possible, and to not try to travel through flooded roadways.  Rain is expected to continue through the evening, and heavier flooding than earlier forecast is now expected.  The French Broad River near Rosman in Transylvania County was near its record level just after 6 p.m. Tuesday.  Flooding was also occurring along the Pigeon River near Canton in Haywood County.  Both had earlier declared states of emergency due to the weather.

Duke Energy was reporting just around 19-thousand customers without power Tuesday evening.  The largest outages were around Biltmore Forest and Fletcher.  (Duke Energy outage map can be found here)  Rain is in the forecast through the evening. 

(5:30 p.m. Tuesday)  Minor flooding occurred Tuesday afternoon in various portions of Western North Carolina, as the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred passed through the region.  It comes two days after very heavy rainfall also caused minor flooding.

The National Weather Service in Greenville issued flash flood warnings for parts of 10 different counties in Western North Carolina, as multiple rivers hit minor flood stage Tuesday afternoon.  That includes the French Broad River in both Transylvania County near Rosman, and in Henderson County near Fletcher.  The French Broad is also forecast to go above minor flood stage near Asheville and Marshall overnight according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.  (Check the latest on river levels here)  The Swannanoa River around Biltmore Village, an area that commonly sees flooding after major rain storms, is also forecast to see minor flooding overnight.  Flood waters in most of the region are expected to peak Wednesday morning or early Wednesday afternoon.

Both Transylvania and Haywood Counties declared state of emergencies due to the rainfall.  Transylvania did so Monday, shortly after Sunday's storm that dumped up to 10 inches of rain in parts of the county.  Fred is expected to dump up to 9 inches in some places in Transylvania as well.

U.S. 19/74 through the Nantahala Gorge closed Tuesday because of landslides.  The N.C. Department of Transportation estimated about 15-20 trees and around 20 'tandem-axle dump truck loads of material' cover the road.  The Nantahala Gorge has been closed by landslides routinely in recent years following any major rainstorm.

Buncombe County announced its offices would close at 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon due to the weather.  That meant the county board of commissioners meeting scheduled for 5 had to be postponed.  It will now be held Wednesday at noon.  Commissioners are scheduled to vote then on reinstituting an indoor mask requirement for public buildings and facilities.  It can be watched live on the Buncombe County Facebook page.