About 20 people are unaccounted for in Haywood County west of Asheville after Fred slammed the area as a tropical depression on Tuesday, county authorities said.
About 250 rescuers using boats, drones and other means are searching for them in that county, state emergency management officials said, and stunned residents are taking stock of a changed landscape.
Cheri Mincey was in her Haywood County mobile home Tuesday when floodwater swept it away — carrying it around three blocks, she told CNN affiliate WLOS.
“All of a sudden, I’m floating! I don’t have a steering wheel, I don’t have a brake, I don’t have anything to control it,” Mincey said, adding the home eventually came to rest against a tree.
She called 911, and she was told to stay on the highest piece of furniture. Rescuers retrieved her three hours later, and she stayed Wednesday at a high school gym being used as a shelter.
“I lost everything. My clothes, my jewelry, everything,” she told WLOS.
Parts of western North Carolina received more than 10 inches of rain from Sunday through Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.
In Haywood County, authorities started responding to calls about high water Tuesday afternoon — and soon had to help people from their homes, Sheriff Greg Christopher said.
Several people were located safe and reunited with their families Wednesday, but several others were added to the list of unaccounted for throughout the day following the heavy flooding, officials said.
The Pigeon River in Canton, Haywood County, peaked at 19.7 feet Tuesday — more than 9 feet above flood stage, a National Weather Service gauge shows.
“As the water level began to rise, a whole lot faster than I have ever saw it rise here in our county, we soon started to have to rescue people from their homes and provide additional assistance to our residents, and to our fire departments,” Christopher said.
Ground, aerial and swift water rescue teams were sent to areas hardest hit by the storm to start the search and secure process.
Fred made landfall as a tropical storm in the Florida Panhandle at Cape San Blas on Monday afternoon with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. It was downgraded to a tropical depression Tuesday morning as it lost strength over land.
Rain in New York and New England on Thursday
Fred has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, but the storm still poses a flooding danger for parts of the US Northeast.
The system was raining on parts of New York and New England on Thursday morning.
About 1 to 5 inches of rain are possible in those areas through Thursday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Flash flood watches or flood warnings were in effect for parts of New York, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.