ASHEVILLE, NC – The remnants of Tropical Storm Fred it soaked the Northeast Thursday as southern states assessed damage from severe flooding, which in North Carolina had left two dead and 20 missing.
Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency while western North Carolina suffered intense flooding, with nearly 100 people rescued, after Fred drenched the state as a tropical depression earlier in the week.
Cooper planned to inspect the flood damage Thursday afternoon. US Senator Thom Tillis toured the area earlier in the day.
The storm that hit the area Tuesday made roads impassable, washed away bridges and flooded homes and businesses.
Meanwhile, Fred’s remains are forecast to bring up to 5 inches of rain from New York state across New England on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. Flash flood alerts were in effect for much of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and parts of Maine.
The weather service also warned that a tornado was possible, and tornado warnings were issued Thursday in several counties in New York and New England.
In North Carolina and West Virginia, power had largely been restored after about 37,000 customers were without power on Wednesday, according to the utility tracker. poweroutage.us. But about 17,000 customers in Pennsylvania and New York were without power as of Thursday afternoon, the tracker reported.
Monday and Tuesday marked the heaviest two-day rains in more than 50 years in Buncombe County, which includes Asheville, and neighboring Haywood County saw the worst of the storm, Cooper said at a news conference Wednesday.
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As of Thursday morning, 20 people were missing in Haywood County, said Allison Richmond, a spokeswoman for the county’s emergency services. The number of missing had been 35 by Wednesday night, but several people were determined to be safe and be reunited with their family, he said.
Richmond also confirmed the two deaths and said officials were still working with the medical examiner on the identifications.
Damage to roads and bridges was significant, with at least 10 to 15 bridges damaged or destroyed, he said. About 200 members of search and rescue personnel were going from house to house along the Pigeon River.
“We have houses that are completely destroyed and off their foundations,” said Sheriff Greg Christopher. “Mobile homes that were moved and mobile home parks that I would call completely destroyed.”
Haywood County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Kevin Ensley said damage caused to structures as a result of the storm amounts to about $ 300 million in the small unincorporated community of Cruso in Haywood, which is considered the most affected by Fred. Ensley said 225 structures, including houses, were destroyed.
Ronnie Hannah, who has lived on Cruso Road for 74 years, had her chain-link fence ripped from the ground and her lawn destroyed in the storm.
“I’ve never seen anything so devastating,” Hannah said of the damage to the community. “I get depressed. I go out and sit and think about how it looked.”
Jessica Vecchio, her two children, two dogs and five cats slept in a van after their apartment was destroyed by flooding on Tuesday. “We are just bagging things that we can, trying to salvage what we can,” he said.
In Buncombe County, there were about 70 water rescues and 911 call centers answered twice the typical call volume in a 24-hour period, spokeswoman Lillian Govus said.
The storm caused Rock slides and downed trees, including on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The popular national park, which winds directly through Asheville, was almost completely closed in western North Carolina during the storm’s peak Tuesday, spokeswoman Leesa Brandon said. Much has been cleared since then, but most of the main corridor through Asheville remained closed Wednesday, Brandon added.
“What really took us by surprise was how fast the water came up, the tremendous amount and intensity of it,” said Zeb Smathers, mayor of the city of Canton, where water rescues were also needed.
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Fred has been blamed for at least one other death after a floatplane driver capsized in a ditch near Panama City, Florida.
the The storm roared ashore Monday near Cape San Blas in the Florida Panhandle. Like a tropical storm Fred flooded streets, downed power lines and trees, and destroyed houses, mobile homes, and other buildings throughout the South during his march north.
The storm triggered more than a dozen tornadoes in Georgia and the Carolinas, according to the National Weather Service.
Two other storms, Tropical Storm Grace and Tropical Storm Henri, were active in the Atlantic basin on Thursday. Grace made landfall in Mexico as a hurricane on Thursday, and Henri could be a threat to the Northeast and New England early next week.
Contributors: Karen Chávez, Asheville Citizen Times; Doyle Rice, USA TODAY; The Associated Press