Catastrophic flooding from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred has killed at least 2 people and left another 20 missing after mudslides and record river levels devastated mountainous areas of western North Carolina, while portions of the East Coast might be in for yet another tropical hit in the next few days.
Haywood and Transylvania counties in North Carolina were the hardest-hit, receiving up to a foot of rain as Fred moved through the area on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Fred made landfall along the Florida Panhandle as a tropical storm on Monday afternoon, with its remnants now over New England—an area under threat from another system.
Tropical Storm Henri is forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane in the next day or so before moving toward the New England coastline on Sunday or Monday, though it could weaken a bit over cooler waters in the area just before a potential landfall.
Hurricane Grace on Thursday morning became the first storm of the season to make landfall with hurricane strength, hitting the eastern portion of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and bringing severe weather to popular tourist destinations like Cancun. Grace brought sustained winds of up to 80 mph as a Category 1 storm.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) issued a state of emergency in North Carolina on Wednesday to aid with the flood response effort, while swift water rescue teams and the National Guard have also been deployed to the western part of the state to search for the missing. Around 100 people had been rescued as of Wednesday, according to the state. Boil water advisories have also been issued in parts of western North Carolina after several water systems were impacted by the storm.
“North Carolina is strong and resilient, and we’re committed to helping people and businesses recover as quickly as possible,“ Cooper said in a statement.
U.S. 19, one of the main highways through the Nantahala National Forest, appeared to be open on Thursday after being closed earlier due to mudslides. The forest attracts more than 4 million visitors a year.
35 people missing, bridges and roads washed out in parts of western North Carolina (The Charlotte Observer)