Image: Flooded homes near Atlanta
John Bazemore  /  AP
These homes in Mableton, Ga., near Atlanta were flooded on Tuesday.
updated 9/23/2009 10:11:42 AM ET 2009-09-23T14:11:42

Neighborhoods, schools and even roller coasters at Six Flags over Georgia remained awash in several feet of murky, brown water Tuesday, even as an emerging sun shed light on the widespread flood damage.

So far, at least nine deaths in Georgia and Alabama were blamed on the torrential downpours in the Southeast. The storms finally relented and relief was in sight with just a slight chance of rain overnight, but the onslaught left many parts of the region in stagnant water.

In Tennessee, a man was still missing after jumping into the fast-moving water as part of a bet. Boats and trucks evacuated 120 residents from a retirement center as nearby creeks rose, and several hundred others were ferried from low-lying neighborhoods and motels to dry land.

Several hundred people in Georgia took refuge at shelters and officials worked to clean up and repair washed out roads and bridges. Georgia officials estimated $250 million in damages.

Toddler swept from father's arms
The storm left nine people dead in its wake, including a toddler swept from his father's arms. On Tuesday, rescuers found the body of 14-year-old Nicholas Osley who was swimming in the Chattooga River, along with another woman who was swept from her car in Douglas County just west of Atlanta.

Authorities also released a 15-minute 911 call of another storm victim's last moments. Seydi Burciaga, 39, screamed to a dispatcher as water rose to her neck. The dispatcher advised her to try to break a window, but she can't.

"I don't want to drown here, please!" Burciaga said.

Slideshow: Damage, deaths After several days of steady rain, the ground was saturated from Alabama through Georgia into eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. The floods came just months after an epic two-year drought in the region ended with winter rains.

Georgia emergency officials warned residents not to return to their homes too soon because the lingering water was still dangerous. Some ignored officials and had to be rescued.

"We had people who were out safely but decided they wanted to get back in danger," said Charley English, head of Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

The devastation surrounding Atlanta was widespread. In Austell, about 17 miles west of downtown Atlanta, Sweetwater Creek overflowed its banks, sending muddy water rushing into a nearby mobile home park where several trailers were almost completely submerged.

"We don't know what to do," said Jenny Roque, 30, who lived there with her husband and four children. "The only thing we have left is our truck."

Residents try to salvage belongings
Just down the road, in the Mulberry Creek subdivision, large houses built just five years ago were partially underwater. Some residents tried to salvage anything.

"There's things that you can't replace, but it's just stuff," said Deborah Golden, whose split-level home was mostly underwater. "But there are four people in our family and we're all safe so we're glad for that."

Video: Waterlogged As Peachtree Creek in Atlanta began to recede, residents were packing moving vans with furniture and commiserating about water-logged apartments.

"I'm toast," said Penny Freeman, who moved into a first-floor unit five days ago. "I don't have a place to stay. I'm losing my mind right now."

Washed-out roads and flooded freeways around metro Atlanta caused commuters headaches. Gov. Sonny Perdue asked President Barack Obama to declare a state of emergency in Georgia.

At one of the largest shelters at the Cobb County Civic Center, Shirley Jones sat with others on green cots, chatting about the fate of their homes. Around them, children played games, oblivious to the destruction.

"When I saw the water rising, it brought back bad memories," said Jones, who lived in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. The 72-year-old had moved to the area two months ago.

Jones said rescue efforts this time went much more smoothly. A boat retrieved her from a family member's house.

Before being evacuated, Cordell Albert and her husband Christopher moved their valuables to the second floor of their Powder Springs home. The couple waded through knee-deep water before a raft picked them up.

"I feel lost," she said. "I feel homeless."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Flood death toll rises to nine

  1. Closed captioning of: Flood death toll rises to nine

    >> pete williams , thanks. we turn to the flooding in the south. today, more rain and more deaths brought on by several feet of flood water covering a huge area. ron mott is live in georgia, northwest of the city of atlanta. good evening.

    >> reporter: brian, good evening. tonight, the death toll is at least eight with an expected nine fatalities where a man has been missing. the sun came out, but it's far from picture perfect . the only thing moving across parts of interstate 20 was rushing water. nearby, many houses remain flooded to the rooftops, schools, too. the scream machine at six flags was under water. they asked president obama for federal aid , asking citizens for patience.

    >> i know it's a huge temptation for people wanting to get back in their neighborhoods and see the damage to their homes. please, please, please, safety first.

    >> reporter: for some of those able to reach their homes, the trip back was wrenching.

    >> we don't have anything. we have only been there a year.

    >> reporter: others were luckier.

    >> we have our live you know.

    >> reporter: it's not just residents left with a mess. authorities say drinking water is not threatened.

    >> there's a tremendous amount of damage. until we can bring the plant back online, we will continue to discharge the chat hoo chi river .

    >> reporter: in atlanta, they waded through water and damage.

    >> it's gone. it's gone.

    >> reporter: his two little ones, found safe and sound.

    >> i couldn't believe it. everything we own was floating around in there. these cats were clinging for dear life in there. never seen this before.

    >> reporter: with forecasters calling for more rain, officials and residents are hoping to get a lot of the water down before the skies open up, again.

    >> ron mott, in georgia, what a terrible situation. thanks.

    >>> at the other end of


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