Storms bring death and chaos to southeast U.S.

By Calvin Palmer

Heavy rains in Georgia brought chaos to the Atlanta area and have resulted in four people being killed and rescuers are searching for other people reported missing.

A two-year-old boy was found dead in Carroll County this afternoon after his family’s mobile home was swept into a rain-swollen creek. The mobile home split apart after being carried away by Snake Creek, which had rise from its normal level of two feet to 20 feet.

Two men died in Douglas County in separate incidents.

A man’s body had been found downstream from where a car was swept into a creek on North Helton Road. A second man, identified as 29-year-old Kevin Hodges, was found along Banks Mill Road.

Seydi Burciaga, 39, was found dead inside her van  after it was swept into a swollen creek in Gwinnett County.

Firefighters arrived to find the area under several feet of water with one motorist standing on the roof of his car to escape the deluge, said Gwinnett fire spokesman Capt Thomas Rutledge.

Relatives told authorities that they had been on the phone with Burciaga during her ordeal and relaying information about her condition and location to 911. However, they eventually lost contact with her, Rutledge said.

Forecasters issued flood alerts for parts of Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia as more rain fell after days of storms that have saturated the ground.

The Weather Service said 3 to 7 inches had fallen just since 9:00 p.m. yesterday from Franklin in west Georgia through Carrollton and Douglasville to Dallas.

In addition to the flood warnings, a flood watch was in effect through tomorrow morning for all of north and central Georgia, as streams such as Sweetwater Creek in the western suburbs and Big Creek to the north continued to rise. Forecasters said that storms still west of Georgia could bring metro Atlanta another 1 to 5 inches of rain, causing major flooding along the Chattahoochee River, as well as along Peachtree and Nancy creeks.

The “persistent tropical system” that has been hovering over the region for the last week could dump another four inches on north Georgia overnight Monday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Frank Taylor. Rains were expected to taper off starting Wednesday.

A spokesman for Georgia Power, Jeff Wilson, said 11,300 people were without power in metro Atlanta, primarily in Fulton, DeKalb and Douglas Counties. Wilson said crews are working to restore power.

The rain-soaked ground has loosened the soil around trees, causing them to topple, taking out utility wires along the way.

Roads were closed by high water throughout the metro area, and in Douglas County, flooding washed out the main line of the Norfolk Southern railroad near Villa Rica.

School closings and delays occurred in parts of Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama.

Rescuers in Tennessee were searching for a Chattanooga man swept into a culvert yesterday after boasting that he could swim across a flooded ditch alongside his house for $5. The man’s nephewidentified him as 46-year-old Sylvester Kitchens.

Firefighters rescued another man who also tried to swim the ditch. Albert Miller was found clinging to a fence in the water near where the water empties into the culvert, said Fire Department spokesman Bruce Garner.

Miller was taken to the hospital with symptoms of hypothermia.

[Based on reports by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Associated Press.]

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