Laurel Bank Campground

Sherri McArthur cries as she looks out at the debris left by her beloved campers at Laurel Bank Campground along the Pigeon River on Dec. 22.
“It’s affected me so much. I lost four of my favorites…I still cry,” said McArthur. “I still cry every day when I think about it.” Credit: Angela Wilhelm

Every day, the images still float through Sherrie McArthur’s mind, like the debris that clogged the East Fork of the Pigeon River in August, according to the Citizen Times.

Once-pleasant summer dwellings washed away or shredded to pieces. Debris everywhere on the 11-acre property her family first opened as a campground 51 years ago. And the four residents of Laurel Bank Campground in Haywood County, N.C., who lost their lives in the Aug. 17 flooding caused by remnants of Tropical Storm Fred.

McArthur, 65, owner of what’s left of the Laurel Bank Campground, sometimes has been staying with her sons in Cruso and Waynesville, and she recently spent eight days with another son who lives in Boston. She had hoped the change of scenery might ease the painful memories, and it did for a week.

“But when I came back, it’s still the same ugly, flooded mess,” McArthur said. “It’s affected me so much. I lost four of my favorites … I still cry. I still cry every day when I think about it.”

The Aug. 17 flooding inundated the Cruso community of Haywood County. In a post-storm analysis, the National Weather Service found more than 14 inches of rain fell over 12 hours, with eight of those falling in just two to three hours at the headwaters of the Pigeon River near Graveyard Fields.

The remains of the campground lie across Cruso Road (U.S. 276) from the Cruso Volunteer Fire Department. A bridge going to the campground sustained serious damaged but was repaired last summer.

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