HAYWOOD COUNTY, N.C. — Recovery efforts are well underway to rebuild mountain communities after Tropical Storm Fred caused millions of dollars in destruction last week, according to county officials.
Travis Donaldson, emergency services director for Haywood County, gave an update Monday on search and rescue efforts, storm assessment, and the state’s work with FEMA.
He said the number of victims killed in the storm remains at five. Rescuers have found nearly all the dozens of people who were listed as missing after the storm last week, except for one person. Donaldson crews are continuing to look for them.
He said damage assessment of the devastation from Fred continues.
“We have numerous, numerous crews, numerous volunteer resource agencies, documenting this damage across our area,” Donaldson said.
The efforts to note any and all damage from the storm are happening in all impacted mountain communities, including Canton, Cruso, Clyde and beyond, Donaldson said.
Donaldson said the process of documenting is incredibly important because once everything is noted, the state can submit a report to FEMA, and in turn more resources can be made available to North Carolina.
“I want to stress the importance of us being able to know all of these damages,” he said.
FEMA is aware of the disaster’s impacts on the state, and North Carolina officials are working with the agency to get help.
Residents will know their property has been assessed based on signage that will be left, but those who want something noted can call the storm help hotline at 828-356-2022, and someone can be sent to survey damage.
Donaldson encouraged residents to begin cleanup, but said it was important to document any and all damage before putting the pieces back together. He warned that anyone doing cleanup should be careful and take safety precautions because floodwaters can carry dangerous debris and bacteria.
Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher spoke at the news conference and said deputies are ramping up their efforts as recovery is underway.
“We have stepped up our patrol from the Sheriff’s Office stand point,” he said.
Christopher said seven highway patrol officers have also come to the community to help with patrol.
There have been 10 reports of suspicious activity or looting in the storm’s aftermath, but as of Monday afternoon, no arrests have been made, according to the sheriff.