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Final victim found and identified after historic flooding in western North Carolina

John Krolak, Frank Lauer, Sr., 74, Frank Mungo, 86, Franklin McKenzie, 68, Judy Mason, 73 and Charlene Mungo, 83, have now been identified and families notified.
Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 7:37 PM EDT
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HAYWOOD COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Officials have found and identified the sixth and final victim of historic flooding in western North Carolina from Tropical Storm Fred on Aug. 17.

John Krolak was located Friday by search teams and was positively identified by the family.

Krolak, Frank Lauer, Sr., 74, Frank Mungo, 86, Franklin McKenzie, 68, Judy Mason, 73 and Charlene Mungo, 83, have now been identified and families notified.

“Our deepest condolences go out to Mrs. Krolak and to all the families of those whose lives were lost during this tragic flooding. Our hearts grieve together for the lives, homes, and livelihoods lost in this disaster. Together we seek comfort and healing and hope for the future,” said Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher.

With the recovery of Krolak, the search portion of the Tropical Storm Fred response is now concluded, while the recovery process that has been underway since late last week continues.

Officials say nearly a foot of rain fell over the course of three days in some areas of western North Carolina, from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred and the rains that preceded it with record flooding occurring.

More than 200 searchers set off on missions to continue searching home to home along the Pigeon River, clearing areas and making preliminary assessments of damage. There was significant damage to roads and bridges, especially in Cruso, with at least 10-15 bridges damaged or destroyed.

In response to Tropical Storm Fred, Governor Roy Cooper issued a State of Emergency to activate the state’s emergency operations plan and waive transportation rules to help first responders and the agriculture industry.

Haywood County appeared to be the most severely impacted, where historic flooding happened along the Pigeon River.

More than 98 people were rescued from floodwaters in western counties. Several people were determined to be safe and reunited with their families.

Assessment teams from FEMA have been on the ground in Haywood County this week assessing the damage and generating reports.

On Friday afternoon, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that he has formally requested that the President declare a major disaster for the State of North Carolina and that the state is seeking federal assistance due to the effects of Tropical Storm Fred in the Western North Carolina Region.

“The people of Western North Carolina took a devastating blow from Tropical Storm Fred’s flooding,” said Gov. Cooper. “Federal assistance is needed to help rebuild and become more resilient ahead of future storms,” Gov. Cooper said.

The governor requested the Individual Assistance program to support homeowners and renters in Buncombe, Haywood and Transylvania counties and the Public Assistance program to reimburse costs for repairs to public facilities and infrastructure in Avery, Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, Transylvania, Yancey and Watauga counties.

If granted, the Individual Assistance program provides financial assistance and direct services to eligible individuals and households affected by disaster.

Public Assistance provides reimbursement to local governments and publicly-owned utilities for the costs for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures and the repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged publicly owned facilities and the facilities of certain private nonprofit organizations.

“Haywood County would like to thank all of the teams and individuals who have assisted us over the past 11 days, we could not have done what we have done without everyone’s help. The amount of support and love that have been shown to all of our responders and the communities and individuals have been truly been humbling. We have a long road ahead of us but I feel confident that all of the players are at the table and working hard at getting Haywood County back on its feet and moving forward,” said Haywood County Emergency Services Director Travis Donaldson.

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