Two killed, 1 missing as storms drench Southeast

September 21, 2009 10:53:30 AM PDT
At least two people died in floodwaters in Georgia and another was believed drowned in Tennessee as rows of thunderstorms drenched the Southeast, submerging some major highways in the Atlanta area and prompting flood warnings Monday. Forecasters issued flood alerts for parts of Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia as more rain fell after days of storms that have saturated the ground. As much as 20 inches had fallen in three days in the Atlanta metro area.

Emergency workers in the Atlanta suburb of Lawrenceville found a woman dead in her sunken vehicle after it was swept off a road by flooding Monday, said Capt. Thomas Rutledge of the Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services. He had no further information about the woman.

"In my 22 years in the fire department here in Gwinnett we have not experienced flooding to this degree," Rutledge aid. Another fatality was reported in Douglas County west of Atlanta after a vehicle was washed off a road into a creek and the adult male driver, whose name wasn't immediately released, was found downstream when the water receded, said county spokesman Wes Tallon.

In Chattanooga, Tenn., rescuers found two men clinging a chain-link fence in rushing water late Sunday. One was saved but the other, said to be in his mid-30s, is presumed lost, said Chattanooga Fire Department spokesman Bruce Garner.

A neighbor tried to rescue the man by throwing a garden hose to him, but as he reached for the hose, the powerful current pulled him into a flooded culvert. The man's identity was being withheld until relatives could be notified.

The rolling storms shut down school systems in five north Georgia counties. Water also flooded homes, washed out some roads and left standing pools on some busy metro Atlanta highways.

Flash flood watches were issued Monday for much of Alabama. School officials in Bibb County, about 50 miles southwest of Birmingham, called off classes for fear their 3,600 students wouldn't be able to get home later Monday.

Lisa Janak of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency says the rains caused a mudslide that blocked part of Stone Mountain Freeway east of Atlanta. She urged residents to stay home if they don't have to drive.

Trisha Palmer of the National Weather Service says that as much as 20 inches of rain has fallen on the metro Atlanta area since Friday. She said parts of Douglas and Carroll counties have received more than a foot of rain in the last day alone. As of 8 a.m. Monday, Chattanooga had received 4.93 inches of rain in 24 hours.

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