HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — A High Point woman is dead after catastrophic flooding in western North Carolina.
Judy Mason, 73, died in the floodwater as Tropical Storm Fred tore across the state. Her happy place was a camper in the Laurel Bank Campground in Cruso.
“I would try to go up there at least once a year to the campground, and I’m so happy I did in June, and I got to see her one last time…before all this,” said Naomi Haney, Mason’s daughter.
Haney tells FOX8 originally she wasn’t worried about the tropical storm. She was more worried about her mom’s health after she got a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
She tried to convince her mom who was extremely fatigued to let her come up from Charlotte to help her.
“The worst thing I thought would happen is a tree would fall on her camper because it was surrounded by trees, not knowing the river beside her would be what would take her,” Haney said.
The last time she heard from her mom was around noon on Tuesday. She checked back in around five that evening and didn’t hear anything.
On Wednesday, Haney checked her mom’s Facebook and knew something was wrong when she saw her last login time was 22 hours ago.
She called Haywood County officials and reported her mom was missing.
“My sister-in-law sent a screenshot from Laurel Bank Campground they had posted…the flooding had wiped everything out in the campground. There were 33 people missing, and I just started bawling,” Haney said.
She was shocked and scared. Haney called hospitals and shelters on her way up to Cruso to see the damage for herself.
The area where her mom’s camper used to be was completely empty. All around her she saw mud, debris and campers broken in half from the flooding.
She started talking to people in the campground to see if anyone knew where her mom could be.
“The last someone saw her was in tire-deep water, and you know just driving as fast as she could out of there,” Haney said. “That’s when all the real scenarios in my head started playing out of what might have happened or could have happened.”
Haywood County officials found Judy Mason days later, 300 feet from her upside-down, mud-filled car. Local law enforcement wanted a family member to identify the body.
“I had to see for myself even though my whole family didn’t want me to see it. She’s my mom. I had to make sure it was her,” Haney said.
Haney focused on her mom’s hazel eyes and her hands to make sure it was her.
“It’s like you grab your mom’s hand so much as a child that you know what her hand looks like,” Haney said.
A moment of reality, loss and peace knowing the mother she lost is in heaven surrounded by the people she loves.
“Just knowing she’s in a better place,” Haney said. “She had just lost her mom in 2017, so I know she’s with her mom and her dad.”
Haney is overwhelmed by all the support and love her family has received during all of this, and she’s grateful for the moments she was able to spend with her mom.