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Mayor Zeb Smathers Guides Canton Through Aftermath of Tropical Storm Fred

This article originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of North Carolina Lawyer Magazine. Read the complete article written by Russell Rawlings and view all NC Lawyer issues at

Tropical Storm Fred slammed through Haywood County on August 17, leaving a swath of death and destruction that is all too familiar to this part of Western North Carolina. It had only been 17 years since the remnants of hurricanes Ivan and Francis left their mark on the Town of Canton and surrounding communities over the course of 10 tragic days.

In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Fred, the NCBA Young Lawyers Division, working in partnership with the ABA Young Lawyers Division, Legal Aid of North Carolina, and FEMA, activated the state’s Disaster Legal Services network. “The DLS pro bono program,” as denoted on the NCBF website, “provides disaster-related resources and services to the public with the support of the North Carolina Bar Foundation.” Learn more here and volunteer.

The storm’s aftermath also brought to light the efforts of NCBA member Zeb Smathers, who serves as Mayor of Canton and was just reelected earlier this month. Like his father and law partner Pat Smathers, who served as the town’s mayor from 1999-2011, Zeb Smathers is now witnessing firsthand what it takes to lead a community through the recovery process in the wake of a natural disaster. His thoughts were captured in the following interview for North Carolina Lawyer magazine.