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McDowell County residents assess damage from Tuesday's heavy rains

Flooding and mudslides caused widespread damage in McDowell County on Tuesday night and into Wednesday, prompting a state of emergency. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Flooding and mudslides caused widespread damage in McDowell County on Tuesday night and into Wednesday, prompting a state of emergency.

Tuesday night, an evacuation order for 200 people was issued, because of fears the dam at Lake Tahoma wouldn’t hold. On Wednesday, it was deemed safe and everyone was able to return home.

There were multiple bridge and road washouts in the county, and one lane of Interstate 40 westbound was blocked overnight Tuesday while DOT worked to clean up a mudslide.

On Wednesday, Todd Hinson was helping his neighbors rebuild a small bridge that connected their five homes to the main road.

“For it to get to the point it is now, it took several people several tons of rock, several hours just to get it to where it is now,” Hinson said. “All of this was a bridge.”

He said it was concerning when the bridge washed out.

“I would imagine it was unnerving, especially because there are several elderly folks who live back there. Very scary,” Hinson said.

Multiple campgrounds in McDowell County were also underwater. They had been evacuated during the heavy rain the night before.

Terry Bennett said he didn’t take any chances and left before the evacuation became mandatory.

“We said we gotta move out, which we did about 6. Then it was mandatory,” Bennett said.

Old Fort Baptist Church shelter remains open to those who need it. EMS officials said 35 local, state and federal agencies are helping out.

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