Resources available for flood victims Friday, Saturday

Published 5:01 pm Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Agencies available at Tryon Elementary gym for flood needs

TRYON — Anyone who suffered damage from last Friday’s flood, mudslides and landslides is invited to visit Tryon Elementary School Friday and Saturday to speak to officials who can offer help and answers to questions.

American Red Cross Recover caseworkers, the North Carolina Department of insurance, North Carolina Emergency Management and other partners will provide information, referrals, signup for debris cleanup assistance and recovery planning from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Officials will be available at the Tryon Elementary School gymnasium, located at 100 School Place, Tryon.

Available at the elementary school will also be cleanup supplies, tarps, bottled water, hot meals, medication replacement and other support.

“The goal is to get all the resources in one place,” said Red Cross Executive Director Western North Carolina Chapter Allison Trask. “Because so much of it is case specific, they can come and get all the resources they need. This is for everybody impacted at all, no matter which county.”

First and foremost, Red Cross officials said victims should take pictures of any damage and keep receipts of any work they have done.

County officials said it is not yet known whether the event will qualify for state and federal emergency assistance. If Polk does qualify, it could take months to get reimbursements.

Tryon suffered a tornado last October and were just recently reimbursed by emergency funding for its cleanup efforts.

“[Victims] should take pictures, keep receipts and go ahead and get needed work done,” Trask said Wednesday.

A CodeRed message will be sent out in Polk County announcing the Tryon Elementary School station.

Trask said in-kind donations cannot be taken at this time, but financial contributions to the effort can be made through redcross.org or by calling Trask at 828-575-8834.

Local residents are asked to contact the Thermal Belt Outreach to volunteer their time with the cleanup, by calling 828-894-2988.

Friday’s storms brought heavy rains, flooding, mudslides and landslides to Polk County, causing Interstate 26 to be closed for 6 hours and U.S. 176 in Tryon to still be closed to through traffic. Other roads and areas and property were also damaged throughout the county, mostly in Saluda and Tryon.

Patricia Case, 59, of U.S. 176, Tryon, died during a mudslide at her home Friday. Funeral services for Case are Thursday. There were at least a couple mudslides that occurred at the Case home, destroying the home and knocking the house off the foundation.

In total, 40 homes were damaged in the Pacolet Valley, with nine mudslides determined.

Both Polk and McDowell counties requested the assistance of the American Red Cross following the storms. Shelters were opened in both counties Friday night.

“Swift water rescues were being performed at the time and the water from days of heavy rain had caused bridges and roadways to be washed away or otherwise impassable,” Trask said.

Polk County High School was set up as a shelter Friday night, with 28 travelers stranded when Interstate 26 was shut down.

There were also approximately 50 people who were stranded at Caro-Mi restaurant in the valley Friday night. The restaurant did not suffer damage but people were unable to leave because of U.S. 176 being impassable from trees, rocks, mud and debris from the slides.

“Due to a mudslide-related fatality in Polk County on Friday, our Integrated Care Condolence Team was deployed to provide comfort, mental health and spiritual care and financial assistance to the family,” Task said.

Task said while areas in McDowell and Henderson County have been reopened, Polk County continues to face significant damage, with many roadways still impassable. The Red Cross is coordinating with Polk County Emergency Management this week to assess damage and the needs of individuals who have chosen to shelter in place and for those in areas officials have been unable to reach because of access issues.

The Red Cross continues to provide meals, water, cleanup kits and medication replacement to those victims in need through both the Tryon Youth Center building on U.S. 176 and at Harmon Field in Tryon. Those supplies will continue through Friday.

“With an additional 5 inches of rain in the forecast, concerns remain high for the safety and well-being of Polk County residents, and we are monitoring the situation in close partnership with emergency responders and the Polk County government,” Task said.

Task said, as usual, the region has worked together as a team to help each other and the people they serve.

She asked that people keep friends in Polk County, volunteers and staff in their thoughts, as Polk County is a strong and close-knit community and the loss of a wonderful and well-known member of their family is difficult to process.

“The American Red Cross is here so no one has to live the worst days of their lives alone,” Task said.