PINETOPS, N.C. (WNCN) – First responders rescued 22 people trapped by flood water off Bynum Farm Road in the PinetopS area of Edgecombe County on Friday.
“We just flew over the county and this is the worst spot in the whole county,” said Edgecombe County Sheriff Cleveland “Clee” Atkinson, Jr.
Several days of heavy rain flooded the neighborhood and forced families to flee their homes. The water was so high that the only way first responders could get to them was by raft.
“We have the Edgecombe County Training Center just beyond the woods and a lot of times we gauge it off that. And I can tell you right now we’ve got about 6 feet of water in our training facility right now,” Atkinson said.
Rescue crews said people called for help on Thursday night, but were advised to shelter in place because conditions were too dark and dangerous for rescue crews.
“We had multiple calls during the night of people who live back in the two neighborhoods. We were anticipating the water not to get up this high, so we just had them shelter in place,” said Daniel Webb, Emergency Services Coordinator for Edgecombe County. “Plus, being dark and stuff, we wanted to wait for the rescue crews to have daylight.”
Rescue crews went house-by-house searching for people.
“One home had 17 people in it,” Webb said. “They had kind of moved from four or five homes to one location that was at a higher point.”
At least a dozen others refused to leave and are still in their homes. With floodwaters still high, Atkinson said he has about 20 deputies on standby in case more rescues are needed.
“Our job is to save as many lives as possible, and we didn’t lose a life today. And that means all the world to me that everybody is out safe,” Atkinson said. “And we’re gonna continue to monitor the ones that are still at home. We’re not gonna forget them.”
Atkinson said they also made at least a dozen vehicle rescues for people who disobeyed road closure signs or got stranded in floodwaters.
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