On any given day, our first responders and telecommunicators can face a variety of expected and unforeseen circumstances. On Aug. 17, Buncombe County and the region at-large experienced record rainfall as Tropical Storm Fred made its way through the mountains. Along with the precipitation came flooding, mudslides, and other dangerous situations our highly skilled emergency responders calmly and deftly responded to. To further complicate this historic flooding, the surging COVID-19 Delta variant is creating an increase of respiratory-based calls for help. During a 24-hour period, our award-winning 911 Call Center handled 2,400 calls concerning flooding from Fred in tandem with a resurgent pandemic. On average, the call center manages about 1,000 calls per day.
Those on the ground battling often-times blinding rain responded to countless requests to help residents, businesses, motorists, and others affected by the devastating downpour and swelling COVID cases. Meantime, Buncombe County’s swiftwater rescue and local fire departments responded to more than 80 water rescues in Buncombe and Haywood counties.
From calmly and efficiently routing services to those in need to being the helping hand that rescued people and pets; your actions, dedication, and calm presence undoubtedly mitigated further disaster. Buncombe County thanks you for your service during times of uncertainty and danger and for your continued and reassuring presence during the past 18 months of this global pandemic. It was truly a collaborative and multi-agency response to help reduce the damage and harm from a catastrophic natural disaster.
We know Tropical Storm Fred took the lives of Western North Carolina residents and caused property damage that’s still being evaluated. Our prayers and continued efforts go out to all those who lost loved ones and are in the process of recovering from damage to their businesses and homes. As we continue to assess damage from the aftermath of the storm, our staff is investigating more than 90 public structures that have been affected in unincorporated Buncombe County. If you’ve been impacted by Tropical Storm Fred, please call our dedicated emergency call center at (828) 844-5455, and click here for additional storm recovery resources.
Watch this video to learn more about Task Force 2, Buncombe County’s swiftwater rescue team.