Floods kill 4 in rain-soaked Atlanta area

Atlanta firefighter Stephen Webb carries a dog to safety Monday at the Peachtree Park Apartments.
Georgia creeks and rivers, swollen by days of rain, burst their banks Monday, and at least four people were killed in the flooding, officials said.

At least four others were thought to be missing, said Wes Tallon, spokesman for fire and emergency management services in Douglas County, west of Atlanta. “We’re in rescue-and-recovery mode,” he said. “It has not stopped raining and another line of thunderstorms is coming.” About 100 miles north of Atlanta, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, one person was swept into rushing water and is presumed drowned, said Jeremy Heidt, a spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency in Nashville. In Cobb County in northwest metro Atlanta, standing water kept hundreds of students at Pope High School from leaving, county spokesman Doug Goodwin told CNN. With oversight from the fire department, students were able to evacuate later. In neighboring Paulding County, 20 homes were evacuated amid fear that an overflowing dam there could burst, county Fire Chief Michael Earwood told CNN. He said the situation was out of his department’s hands: “There’s just nothing we can do.” Watch what caused the torrential rain But the biggest evacuation was in Chattooga County in northwest Georgia, where concerns that a levee might fail forced 300 people from their homes in the town of Trion, said Dema Brummer, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. Authorities opened a shelter for them in a church, she said. National Guard units were waiting to see if they would be needed. There were concerns that they would be called in to assist in Douglas County west of Atlanta, National Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Beth Thelen told CNN. The problems came after days of persistent rain soaked a region that just recently was gripped by a seemingly unrelenting drought. “Conditions are dangerous,” she said about the excess water, which has left most of metro Atlanta and the surrounding area subject to flash floods. “We are encouraging people to stay at home and to stay off the roads if they can.” She said “numerous search-and-rescue efforts” have been carried out in Carroll, Douglas and Paulding counties along the Interstate 20 corridor west of Atlanta. iReport.com: Floodwaters seep into Carroll County home Two of the Georgia fatalities involved people trying to drive through floodwater. A vehicle with one man inside was swept off a road in Douglas County and a car carrying a woman was swept off a road in Lawrenceville in Gwinnett County, east of Atlanta, Brummer said. Seydi Burciaga, 39, was driving to her Lawrenceville home from work when flash flooding trapped her in her vehicle, Gwinnett County police said. She called 911 and police tried to locate her, but Burciaga could not tell them exactly where she was. Floodwater moved her car about 500 feet after she was swept off the roadway, and her attempts to guide them toward her by mentioning landmarks were unsuccessful, police said. By the time rescuers found her minivan, she was dead, police said. In Chattanooga, the presumed drowning victim was forced into a culvert, or underground storm water drain, about 6 p.m. Sunday, Chattanooga Fire Department spokesman Bruce Garner told CNN. Sylvester Kitchens Jr., 46, was with a friend, Albert Miller, when the two decided to swim in a large, flooded ditch, Garner said. He said a Miller family member told him that “basically it was a bet.” Both managed to grab onto a chain link fence while being buffeted by the strong current, Garner said. A neighbor threw a garden hose for them to grab onto, and Kitchens reached for it but was unable to hold on. Miller clung to the fence for about 20 minutes and was eventually rescued by firefighters, Garner said. Kitchens’ body has not been found, said Garner, who added that it “doesn’t appear he could’ve survived.” “Hundreds of roads have been closed” in the Atlanta area, Brummer said, adding that Carroll, Douglas and Paulding counties “have been impacted the most.” Watch I-75/85 under water Schools were shut in those counties, as well as in Gwinnett County, she said. Northeast of Atlanta, the Chattahoochee River was at 20 feet, up from 2 feet last June.

Along the border between Paulding County and Cobb County, CNN’s Reynolds Wolf watched as Sweetwater Creek crept overnight 100 yards across his back yard to within a few feet of his house. Watch Wolf’s backyard under water Neighbors who slept through the downpour overnight awoke to find their dog had drowned in their basement, Wolf said.