Search continues in Haywood County for 20 missing people


CANTON, N.C. (WSPA) — Clean-up continues in Haywood County following devastating flooding earlier in the week.

Two people are dead and 20 others are missing. The Town of Canton was affected tremendously by those storms, and search crews are now focused on finding those unaccounted for.

Kevin Sandefur said the river came over the bank and into his business like a tidal wave.

“It was very scary how quickly it came up and overwhelmed us,” said Sandefur.

After his brewery was put on hard times in the pandemic, he says this is just another blow.

“I’m not going to lie, I feel a little bit set back,” Sandefur explained. “I feel like we just got set back a couple years.”

Strangers were also coming out to help with the cleanup.

“I’m here and a bunch of my buddies are coming in a few hours and we’re going to do what we can to help out,” said Mike Howell, who lives in nearby Clyde.

Howell has a running group that meets weekly at BearWaters Brewery and came to do his part.

“Devastation. This is people’s lives and livelihoods are destroyed and we just need to come together and try to rebuild for them,” Howell said.

And it doesn’t stop there. Canton’s ball field and recreation park were both caked in mud and strewn with debris. Sen. Thom Tillis surveyed some of the damage on Thursday.

“They have the grit and the grace to get it done. We just have to work on it. We have to make sure the state, I know the governor is working on it,” Tillis said.

The important part now is getting the help of the federal government.

“Senator Burr and I will do everything we can to provide support and get it through the FEMA process,” Sen. Tillis said.

The mayor of Canton said that federal assistance is crucial to the recovery process here. One thing is helping people like Sandefur pull through.

“When you face something like this you feel pretty devastated,” Sandefur said. “But you get a lot of hope from people that just come and tell you how much they love you and how much they want to see this go on.”

Several people have been found safe and were able to be reunited with their families.

The sheriff said they are still searching cars that ended up in the river for more people.

Governor Roy Cooper, who also toured the storm damage Thursday, said cell phone tracking is also helping in the search efforts.

Cooper said about 200 water rescues took place due to the storms.

225 buildings were destroyed in Haywood County alone, officials said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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