Footage of the devastating aftermath of Tropical Storm Fred showed homes destroyed, abandoned vehicles sunk deep into mud and waterlogged roads in North Carolina on Thursday.
The storm, which caused severe flooding in the western part of the state, left 35 people unaccounted for in Haywood County, which was the most severely impacted area.
Ground, aerial and water rescue crews were continuing their search for those still missing throughout the day, but were expected to pause at nightfall for safety reasons, according to local authorities.
Haywood County NC Government posted a statement on their Facebook page reporting that there had been “significant damage to roads and bridges”. As many as 15 bridges were damaged or destroyed and six main roads were closed. The statement also said that 10 people were being housed in emergency shelters overnight.
A state of emergency was declared in Haywood County on Tuesday evening before the storm hit, with forecasts warning of heavy rainfall and the potential for landslides, flooding, power outages, infrastructure damage and and unsafe road conditions.
Residents in the region’s low-lying areas had been told to evacuate the area and “seek higher ground immediately”.
Over three days, almost a foot of rain fell in parts of western North Carolina from Fred and earlier heavy rains. The flooding, which was described in a statement released by Governor Roy Cooper’s office as “historic”, was greatly worsened by the steep slopes of the mountainous region.
Fred, which was downgraded to a tropical depression and later a post-tropical cyclone, is heading northwards and is predicted to bring heavy rains to Pennsylvania and New York and then move on towards New England.