Residents, officials surveying damage following Friday’s storms

Published 3:42 pm Monday, May 21, 2018

TRYON — “Some people literally have nothing left,” said Captain Nick Edwards, of Saluda Fire and Rescue. “Tryon on Highway 176 [is] one of the worst hit areas in the county.”

Edwards said crews were out all night Friday night when the worst of the rains came. He said they received calls from people about multiple mudslides, trees and downed power poles, with live lines sparking.

“We had several swift water rescues over the district,” he said. “We were out all night long pulling people out of stranded cars.”

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Carol Lynn Jackson posted a harrowing story on Facebook about being rescued from the top of her van as rising waters rushed around her.

“The madly rushing water was trying to rock my van loose of its grip on the road,” Jackson wrote. “Logs, rocks, even mailboxes were rushing by a now large wide river. I was getting cracked in the bare legs by them when I tried to wade out barefoot in the thigh-high fast water….but I couldn’t let go of the van or I would have been swept away…water was guessed later at 25 mph.”

In spite of her harrowing experience, Jackson expressed condolences for the family of Tryon’s Patricia Case, who died after her home was struck by a mudslide Friday, and her appreciation of the Tryon Fire and Rescue Department and for Jackson Towing.

Many caught by the storm spent Friday night in a temporary shelter at Polk County High School. Other reports say 30 to 50 people were stranded at the Caro-Mi Dining Room.

Today, they are looking at walls of mud where their homes used to be and hoping to find someplace to live for the time being.

Edwards said Holbert’s Cove, Green River Cove and Ozone Drive are the worst hit areas. Reports from Meadowlark Drive off U.S. 176 say that houses are completely gone.

“It’s a major ruin up there,” said one resident, who wished to stay anonymous. Others said they were not able to even talk about what they had experienced in the last couple of days. Others are calling everywhere for information about how to go about starting clean, or even if it is safe to start cleanup.

Park Superintendent Travis Aldred said Harmon Field was half flooded, but there is no damage to the buildings. He said the screened-in building was flooded and is full of debris, but because it is an outdoor building there is no real damage. 

“A tree knocked a post loose on the bridge that is attached to the screened building,” Aldred said. “The bridge is still intact, but we don’t know the extent of the damage.”

Aldred said the field is covered in sand, mud and debris.

“There are trees and chunks of trees, which were floating downstream that are now all over the field,” he said.

He added that they have not been able to consider cleanup yet.

“Volunteers to help clean up at some time would be great, but we don’t know what the plan will be at this moment.”

Edwards said the rescue agencies are working together to plan what comes next.

“Our main concern in the county right now is the additional rain storms coming in the next couple of days,” Edwards said. “We will be meeting with other agencies in the area tomorrow morning [Tuesday] to discuss plans for future emergencies.”