Originally created 09/21/04

Search continues for Ivan's victims in North Carolina



CULLASAJA, N.C. - Workers used cadaver dogs and heavy equipment Monday to continue searching for four people unaccounted-for amid mounds of debris caused by flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan.

Officials in Cullasaja in southwest North Carolina said out-of-state relatives or friends had called to report three of the four people missing, but did not know whether any of them were at home when a landslide wiped out half the town Friday.

The fourth missing person is the husband of one of three people confirmed killed when Ivan's remnants rolled through Friday, a relative said.

Five other deaths in western North Carolina also were blamed on Ivan.

About half of Cullasaja's 30 homes were destroyed, many of them knocked off their foundations and washed down the valley.

"The brush piles up there are totally unbelievable," said Johnny Teem, chief of the fire department. "There are cars completely buried in these piles."

Killed on Friday were a toddler and two adults. A woman who lost her 7-month-old fetus remained in critical condition Sunday after doctors amputated one of her legs, Teem said. Phone calls to officials to determine her condition Monday were not immediately returned.

Resident Gilmer Watts has said one of the missing is his brother, James, whose wife, Katie, was one of the dead.

James and Katie Watts had drive up from their home in Pensacola, Fla., to avoid Ivan's landfall there and were staying in a family-owned trailer.

"They had their children and grandchildren up here with them," said a friend, Virginia Dills. "Thankfully the children had left just a few minutes earlier to watch TV at a neighbor's house."

The other two confirmed dead in the town were family members of a firefighter who was at the fire station when the landslide wiped out his home, Teem said.

About 66,000 people in the region were still without power Monday, down from 213,000 at the storm's peak, state officials said.

President Bush approved a disaster declaration for 16 mountain counties in North Carolina on Saturday. Gov. Mike Easley planned to tour disaster scenes in the area and speak with emergency workers in Buncombe County on Monday.

Hurricane Ivan