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Canton, N.C. — On Day 3 of rescue and recovery efforts in western North Carolina, the scope of the devastation from catastrophic flooding became clearer.
On Friday afternoon, officials in Haywood County confirmed that two more victims died in the devastation, floods and mudslides caused by Fred. Earlier Friday, the identities of two other victims were released.
Frank Mungo, 86, and Franklin McKenzie, 68, were both from the Cruso community. As of Friday afternoon, four people have died from the flooding.
Officials also confirmed that after working diligently to dwindle the list of missing people, five were still missing on Friday.
“We would like to extend our sympathies to all the families who have been affected by this tragedy and most especially to those who have lost loved ones,” said Sheriff Greg Christopher.
Drones and K-9s were assisting ground and swift water rescue teams, with a total of 225 rescuers assigned to work.
Aside from people in need of immediate rescue, hundreds of families also lost their homes.
Officials said some entire neighborhoods were washed away.
“There are areas of the community that don’t exist anymore,” said Travis Donaldson, emergency services director for Haywood County.
Piles of debris – construction materials and the remnants of people’s lives and livelihoods – could take weeks to comb through, officials said.
At least 10 to 15 bridges were also destroyed in Cruso alone – making transportation and hauling debris more complicated.
Residents and volunteers are working to clean properties up, as people come together to try and support the community.
“People are reaching out from around the nation to try and help pick up the pieces,” he said.
American Cleaners in Canton, a long-established business, got a shoutout from Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers. Smathers and other local officials have called on state leaders to secure more relief funding to help business owners like Tom Wilson rebuild.
Wilson owns the cleaners and said this isn’t his first flood. The 82-year-old said his business was nearly destroyed after back-to-back hurricanes led to severe flooding in 2004.
This time, Wilson estimated his losses were upward of $500,000. Wilson says his insurance will cover some of the damage to the building but won’t cover the more than $500,000 of equipment, some of which he just bought.
Nevertheless, Wilson’s not backing down from the challenge the floods have brought.
“A lot of people would just say declare bankruptcy, that’s not me, I’m a fighter,” Wilson said.
Animals and pets have also been displaced, with the local animal shelter stepping up to provide protection and food for these lost animals.
An emergency shelter was set up at Tuscola High School. The shelter was housing seven people on Friday.
The flooding and mudslides were so bad as the remnants of Tropical Depression Fred slammed into Haywood County that nearly 100 people had to be rescued, and several communities had water levels reach 3 to 7 feet higher than their previous high watermark.
With more rain in the forecast for the weekend, some people are concerned about the potential for more flooding and damage that will delay rescue and rebuilding efforts.
Officials cautioned people who are cleaning up debris to make sure and catalog missing or destroyed items, and take photos for insurance purposes.
IF YOU WANT TO DONATE
For families in need of assistance, a help line has been set up at 828-356-2022. Anyone wanting to donate items for the recovery effort can take goods to:
- Bethel Baptist Church: 5868 Pigeon Rd, Canton, NC 28716
- Helping Haywood: 289 Industrial Park Drive Waynesville