Florida Man Fatally Electrocuted Wading Through Eta Flood Waters, Baby Among the Missing in North Carolina

A photographer takes pictures as the sea pounds against Havana's seawall, the Malecon, on Nov. 9, 2020 after the passage of Tropical Storm Eta
A photographer takes pictures as the sea pounds against Havana's seawall, the Malecon, on November 9, 2020 after the passage of Tropical Storm Eta. Getty Stock Images

Tropical Storm Eta continues its path of destruction as it batters the Carolinas and Virginia with deadly flooding hours after battering north Florida. The storm has shattered homes, flooded roads, and collapsed bridges leaving. At least four people have died, while dozens have been rescued, several people remained unaccounted for, according to CBS News.

At least three people were killed by fast-rising waters at a campground in North Carolina's Alexander County. More than two dozen were rescued from the Hiddenite campsite, as rescuers continued to search for two missing people, including a 1-year-old baby, both of whom were presumably swept away by flooding, the news outlet reported. 

An 11-year-old boy, described as “a delightful little guy” by a neighbor ,was last seen playing near the rising water in Rolesville creek, near his home in Rolesville, N.C. when he drowned on Thursday, according to police, WRAL reported. 

Neighbors said it was not uncommon for children to play in or near the creek, which is usually calm and shallow, the news outlet reported. 

At the Creekwood Apartments, Camille Church called 911 for help the moment she saw the floodwaters from Bowen Creek reach the apartment she shares with her wheelchair-bound sister, Denise Donardt, The Winston-Salem Journal reported

“I can run, but she can’t,” Church said. “It (the water) started coming in my front door,” said Donardt.

Donardt and her sister were rescued by a group of 20 city firefighters that used inflatable boats to evacuate them, along with 31 other Creekwood residents, said Capt. Barry Smith of the Winston-Salem Fire Department. 

The storm system triggered flash flooding, multiple water rescues and road closures, and at least one collapsed bridge in South Carolina, said Sandy LaCourte, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Greenville, South Carolina, the Associated Press reported.

Some parts of the Carolinas saw three to seven inches of rainfall already by Thursday afternoon, with more expected. That came amid a combination of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico being carried up by a cold front that had pushed Eta across Florida earlier, according to the news outlet. 

“It’s unfortunately been a tough day for the Carolinas today,” said LaCourte.

Doug Gillespie, the director of public services for Alexander County, said approximately 50 roadways across the county have been compromised with four bridges that have washed away, the AP reported. 

One of those bridges collapsed live on-air, according to Fox 46 Charlotte

Fox 46 News team reporter Amber Roberts and photojournalist Jonathan Monte were reporting on significant flooding near the Hiddenite Bridge in Alexander County when a portion of the bridge broke off and fell into the raging waters. The crew was able to quickly and safely move off of the bridge in time, reported the news station. 

Other destruction included a North Carolina elementary school's parking lot that was completely submerged, destroying cars and forcing the evacuation of 143 people.

Eta battered Latin America and then Miami earlier this week, then hit the Tampa area overnight, where the storm washed boats ashore.

Eta had made landfall for the second time this time near Cedar Key, Florida early Thursday with winds of 50 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Experts said the storm is expected to dump 20 to 25 inches of rain on the South Florida region. The storm had already ripped through the Florida Keys and Miami on Monday.

Although it was not the most powerful storm to hit the U.S. this year, experts said that Eta still had a broad impact across the South, and linked to the death of a Florida man and first fatality connected to Tropical Strom Eta in the greater Tampa Bay area, reported the news outlet.

The victim, Mark Mixon of Bradenton Beach, Florida, was electrocuted and died after he stepped into his flooded garage as he was laying sandbags around his home on Wednesday evening, according to Jacob Saur, director of public safety for Manatee County, the AP.

Saur said there were appliances plugged into the garage and Mixon was killed when he stepped into the water.

“It was an accident. I’m sure he didn’t realize the appliance was plugged in or the appliance was underwater and that’s what happens, it’s a scary situation,” said Bradenton Beach Police Detective Sgt. Leonard Diaz, WFLA reported 

Diaz told the news station a friend tried to save the man but was unable to get to him without being electrocuted himself. First responders had to wait for utility crews to shut off the power in the neighborhood so they could get to the victim. He was confirmed deceased when EMS arrived, WFLA reported.

According to multiple news reports, families caught in Eta had little time to prepare or warning of the strength of the storm.

One North Carolina resident was overcome with emotion as she sat in her car surrounded by flood-ravaged waters, she told a CBS reporter, ”It blows your mind that there's someone you love and they are lost in the water."

Forecasters said the tropical storm was on a path offshore of South Carolina that would eventually take it further out to sea, the AP reported. 

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