The Transylvania Times -

UPDATED: Search For Campers Completed, Storm Causes Major Flooding, Destruction

 

Last updated 8/19/2021 at 4:16pm

Rosman, Lake Toxaway and Balsam Grove and other areas in the western part of the county took the brunt of the storm.

UPDATED: The search for campers has been completed, according to the county. One stranded camper was identified and connected with resources. No missing person reports have been filed, and no signs were evident in drone surveillance of additional campers stranded.

Tropical storm Fred dumped 17 inches of rain in some parts of Transylvania County between Sunday night and Wednesday morning, causing a large evacuation effort across many low-lying parts of the county and damage to area homes, roads and infrastructure.

According to the National Weather Service, Lake Toxaway received the brunt of Fred's rainfall at 17 inches in the last 72 hours (as of Wednesday morning), 10 inches of which fell on Monday night from midnight to 5 a.m. Balsam Grove received 13.54 inches, Brevard received 6 inches and Pisgah Forest received 4 inches of rain.

The town of Rosman, areas of Balsam Grove, and areas of Pisgah Forest were underwater as of Wednesday morning. Landslides have destroyed at least two homes and roads in the Western end of the county.

Effective noon on Monday, Commission Chairman Jason Chappell had declared a state of emergency for the county.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 195 Duke Energy customers in Brevard and Pisgah Forest and 20 in Cedar Mountain that were without power.

According to County Manager Jaime Laughter, this week's flooding is some of the worst the county has seen in decades.

"To give you an idea from previous events, back in 2004 there were three hurricanes that hit Western North Carolina consecutively that caused a lot of landslides, which we're also experiencing right now as well as flooding, and at this point all of our staff agree this is worse than that 2004 event. It is worse than anyone can remember on my team, and we've got folks that have been with the county for over 30 years," Laughter said.

Lawmakers across the state are currently working to provide state and federal relief funding to the county. Laugher said U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn is working at the federal level to access FEMA relief, and that on Wednesday morning the county spoke with Gov. Roy Cooper's office. Both state Rep. Chuck Edwards and state Sen. Jake Johnson are pushing to declare a state of emergency for North Carolina to help facilitate federal relief aid, Laughter said.

In several areas of the county, floodwaters breached bridges and roadways, making roads impassable, and as of Wednesday morning, Silversteen Road, Old CC Camp Road, Old Wagon Road and Becky Mountain Road were closed and Greenville Highway was partially closed.

Part of what created such a dangerous situation was the speed at which the flooding took place in many parts of the county.

According to Laughter, the Davidson River in Pisgah National Forest rose to 14 feet in the span of a few hours on Tuesday, prompting the evacuation of the Davidson River Campground and the closure of the N.C. 276 entrance to Pisgah National Forest. Laugher said the Davidson starts to flood at just over 4 ft. in a typical rain event.

According to officials, Cemetery Road in Pisgah Forest and downtown Rosman were where some of the worst damage occurred to homes in the county.

On Wednesday, teams were out across the county assessing the damage, and official numbers will follow once the full assessment is completed. According to Brevard Fire Chief Bobby Cooper, downtown Brevard escaped the brunt of the damage from Fred, but that he has been assisting fire and rescue teams across the county nonstop to help with the rescue efforts.

"We've got our typical areas that we see that flood around the county, anything along the river basin. But we were seeing areas that hadn't flooded in 20-30 years," Cooper said.

On Tuesday, the Red Cross and Transylvania County established an emergency shelter for people displaced by floodwaters, and Laughter said 28 people sheltered over night, but that a full count of people evacuated from their homes and campsites was unknown as of Wednesday.

Transylvania County crews are working to put out dumpsters near Cemetery Road in Pisgah Forest and in Rosman, so folks can have a place to dispose of debris as the cleanup effort is underway.

The total number of road closures in the area is unknown as of this story's printing, and Laughter said N.C. DOT was out assessing the damage.

 
 

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