Sixth Flood Victim Recovered In Haywood County

Aug 23, 2021

(7 p.m. Friday )    Haywood County Emergency Services say  they've recovered the sixth and  final missing victim of the flooding resulting from Tropical Storm Fred.

John Krolak, of Cruso, was located Friday by search teams and was positively identified by the family.

“Our deepest condolences go out to Mrs. Krolak and to all the families of those whose lives were lost during this tragic flooding. Our hearts grieve together for the lives, homes, and livelihoods lost in this disaster. Together we seek comfort and healing and hope for the future,” said Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher. 

With the recovery of Mr. Krolak, the search portion of the Tropical Storm Fred response is now concluded, while the recovery process that has been underway since late last week continues.  Assessment teams from FEMA have been on the ground in Haywood County this week assessing the damage and generating reports.

( 3 p.m. Friday)  North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that he has formally requested that the President declare a major disaster for the State of North Carolina and that the state is seeking federal assistance due to the effects of Tropical Storm Fred in the Western North Carolina Region.

From the Governor’s Statement:

“The people of Western North Carolina took a devastating blow from Tropical Storm Fred’s flooding,” said Gov. Cooper. “Federal assistance is needed to help rebuild and become more resilient ahead of future storms.” 

The Governor requested the Individual Assistance program to support homeowners and renters in Buncombe, Haywood and Transylvania counties and the Public Assistance program to reimburse costs for repairs to public facilities and infrastructure in Avery, Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, Transylvania, Yancey and Watauga counties.

If granted, the Individual Assistance program provides financial assistance and direct services to eligible individuals and households affected by disaster.

Public Assistance provides reimbursement to local governments and publicly-owned utilities for the costs for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures and the repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged publicly owned facilities and the facilities of certain private nonprofit organizations.

“Haywood County would like to thank all of the teams and individuals who have assisted us over the past 11 days, we could not have done what we have done without everyone’s help. The amount of support and love that have been shown to all of our responders and the communities and individuals have been truly been humbling.  We have a long road ahead of us but I feel confident that all of the players are at the table and working hard at getting Haywood County back on its feet and moving forward,” said Haywood County Emergency Services Director Travis Donaldson.

(4 p.m. Wednesday) As cleanup continues in Haywood County, locals have started a hub for the community to find photos lost in the flooding.

Chelsea White-Hoglen has been volunteered at Cruso Methodist Church, where community members have been giving out supplies and helping those who lost their homes.   Last week they realized that a lot of found possessions including photos and documents were being turned in.

“We figured if we started to post them on Facebook someone could identify them for us and then as folks are busy trying to save their homes we would be able to hold onto them and keep them safe,” said White-Hoglen.

That started the “Storm Fred Photo Recovery” page on Facebook. The page directs volunteers and community members to bring photos and documents to Cruso Methodist Church to be dried out, sorted and hopefully returned to the original owners. 

Just a week after the storm Storm Fred Photo Recovery already has almost 300 members.  Some places to connect for volunteer opportunities are Haywood Flood Help 2021 and recoverhaywood.com.

Here's more resouces on where to help across WNC. 

(4:35 p.m. Monday) Haywood County Emergency Services department is sharpening its focusing on damage assessment and getting resources to those in need. 

The county has launched a resource website that will serve as a hub for the community - recoverhaywood.com.  Emergency Services spokesperson Allison Richmond says it has information on storm-related needs, debris removal and donations. 

“It creates that single point of information so that people can verify whether or not this source for donations is legitimate, where they can go to get resources if they need them, who our official resources are for clean up and just about anything you could need to know," said Richmond. 

United Way Haywood County is the official partner for flood recovery monetary donations. Richmond says the storm relief hotline on the resource page can also set up volunteer opportunities. That phone number is 828-356-2022.

“We need people to remember that the people who are in need are still going to be in need two, three, four weeks from now. And to pace themselves," said Richmond. 

As of Monday afternoon, there are still 60 families being sheltered.

(4:00 p.m. Monday) 

Six days later, and the search for the missing continues in Haywood County following flooding that devastated the Canton area.  Travis Donaldson, the emergency services director for Haywood County, gave an update Monday afternoon.

"Right now we are still looking for a missing person but we are still heavily engaged in damage accessment," said Donaldson. 

Five individuals have been confirmed dead — Frank Mungo, 86, Franklin McKenzie, 68, Judy Mason, 73, Charlene Mungo, 83, all of Cruso. 

The fifth victim, Frank Lauer, Sr., 74, of Cruso was located on Sunday, and his family has been notified. 

It was announced over the weekend that Haywood County Board of Commissioners Chair Kevin Ensley tested positive for COVID-19 on August 19th - the same day that Governor Roy Cooper visited Haywood County.

Ensley was vaccinated in March and is now isolating at home.

'We know that COVID vaccines help protect against serious illness and death, so I am grateful to have been vaccinated before testing positive. I am looking forward to a quick recovery and getting back to work as soon as my isolation period ends,” said Ensley in a press release.

It is with great sadness that we announce the recovery of the final missing victim of the flooding resulting from Tropical Storm Fred that occurred on August 17.

John Krolak, of Cruso, was located today by search teams and was positively identified by the family.

“Our deepest condolences go out to Mrs. Krolak and to all the families of those whose lives were lost during this tragic flooding. Our hearts grieve together for the lives, homes, and livelihoods lost in this disaster. Together we seek comfort and healing and hope for the future,” said Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher. 

With the recovery of Mr. Krolak, the search portion of the Tropical Storm Fred response is now concluded, while the recovery process that has been underway since late last week continues.

Assessment teams from FEMA have been on the ground in Haywood County this week assessing the damage and generating reports.

Today at 3:20 p.m. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that he has formally requested that the President declare a major disaster for the State of North Carolina and that the state is seeking federal assistance due to the effects of Tropical Storm Fred in the Western North Carolina Region.

From the Governor’s Statement:

“The people of Western North Carolina took a devastating blow from Tropical Storm Fred’s flooding,” said Gov. Cooper. “Federal assistance is needed to help rebuild and become more resilient ahead of future storms.” 

The Governor requested the Individual Assistance program to support homeowners and renters in Buncombe, Haywood and Transylvania counties and the Public Assistance program to reimburse costs for repairs to public facilities and infrastructure in Avery, Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, Transylvania, Yancey and Watauga counties.

If granted, the Individual Assistance program provides financial assistance and direct services to eligible individuals and households affected by disaster.

Public Assistance provides reimbursement to local governments and publicly-owned utilities for the costs for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures and the repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged publicly owned facilities and the facilities of certain private nonprofit organizations.

“Haywood County would like to thank all of the teams and individuals who have assisted us over the past 11 days, we could not have done what we have done without everyone’s help. The amount of support and love that have been shown to all of our responders and the communities and individuals have been truly been humbling.  We have a long road ahead of us but I feel confident that all of the players are at the table and working hard at getting Haywood County back on its feet and moving forward,” said Haywood County Emergency Services Director Travis Donaldson.