Polk County mudslides leave dozens stranded

A mudslide and downed tree stranded about 30 people at Caro-Mi Dining Room on U.S. 176 in Tryon on Friday night. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

A mudslide and downed tree stranded about 30 people at Caro-Mi Dining Room on U.S. 176 in Tryon on Friday night.

Emergency management said the deadly mudslides in Polk County damaged about 27 homes. They also badly damaged roads.

“We went out for dinner, and it started raining. The water at the river was getting higher and higher,” said Cathy Painter, who doesn’t live in the area but drove up for dinner at Caro-Mi.

“When we went to leave, there was a mudslide on this end and a tree on this end,” Painter said.

She and the others said walking through the mud was difficult when they were finally able to leave late Saturday morning.

They said the mud, which was past their knees, sucked the shoes shoes off their feet.

A nearby homeowner saw all the cars in the parking lot that morning.

“They ate dinner there, and then they couldn’t leave. A big chunk of the mountain was on the road. They spent the night in the parking lot and the restaurant,” Chris Dannels said.

Dannels said he and his wife were unaware of the devastation until Saturday when emergency workers knocked on his door and advised his family to leave.

“We heard the rain Friday night, but it rains all the time. Didn’t think anything of it. When we heard it was a mudslide, it was terrible,” Dannels said.

Polk County authorities on Monday said Patricia Case was killed in the Friday mudlsides.

Monday night, crews were still working to clear the debris from U.S. 176.

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