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Rains lead to 'state of emergency'

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Gov. Sonny Perdue on Monday declared a state of emergency for 17 Georgia counties, including Clayton.

After viewing storm damage in Douglas and Paulding counties from the air, Perdue issued an executive order declaring the state of emergency for Clayton, Fulton, Cobb, Douglas, Paulding, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Rockdale, Forsyth, Newton, Cherokee, Carroll, Catoosa, Crawford, Stephens, Walker and Chattooga counties, according to a statement issued by the governor's office late Monday.

"Mary [Perdue] and I are saddened by the human cost the recent storms have wrought," Perdue said in the statement. "We are currently focused on rescuing victims of the storms targeting Georgia, and preventing further damage."

The storms were blamed for the deaths of five people in Georgia, including a 2-year-old boy who was swept from his father's arms in a rain-swollen creek in Carroll County, according to The Associated Press.

No injuries were reported in Clayton County due to flooding, Battalion Chief Landry Merkison, of the Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Department, said Monday.

He said, however, there were several reports of traffic accidents due to heavy rain and flooding over the weekend, and a few incidents of flooding on Monday.

"There were a few intersections that were flooded along the Garden Walk Boulevard area, at Lees Mill and Garden Walk [on Monday]," Merkison said.

He said there was also flooding along Interstate 75, in the Frontage Road area, Sunday and Monday.

On Saturday, all lanes on I-75 northbound in Clayton County were closed for several hours due to water covering part of the interstate between Forest Parkway and I-285, Merkison said. He said Georgia Department of Transportation personnel worked for several hours to clear blocked drains, allowing water to run off.

"The biggest one [flooded area] was Upper Riverdale Road ... at the hospital," Merkison said. "That section in front of the hospital was blocked," he said.

Merkison said the flooding did not hinder ambulances from reaching the hospital, and he was not aware of anyone else who was prevented from reaching the hospital due to the blocked road.

Emergency crews also reported that a man became stranded in his truck on Blalock Avenue over the weekend.

"He tried to drive through a puddle of water and his truck gave out," Merkison said. "We got him out with a boat."

The National Weather Service in Peachtree City is predicting a 50 percent chance of rain during daytime hours Tuesday, according to Meteorologist Laura Griffith.

"We could see maybe up to half an inch or so of rain. Some areas [in Clayton] could see heavier amounts," said Griffith. "Into Tuesday night, that's when it begins to drop off. We've got a 20 percent chance of rain Tuesday night."

"Wednesday is kind of the turn day, when we'll begin to see some relief," she said.

Griffith, however, continued to urge caution. "No flood warning is in effect for Clayton County, but you are still under a flood watch, and that flood watch goes through Tuesday morning. Depending on the amount of rain, we could extend that," she said.

Clayton County Public Schools Spokesman Charles White said Monday the possibility of flooding could affect the school system.

Clayton County Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley is "planning to ask the [school system's] transportation department to have their people go out in the morning [Tuesday] and check on the conditions of the roads. It's just to make sure we don't have any flooding, fallen trees, sinkholes or other problems which would create an issue that would prevent the transportation of children, safely, to and from school," White said.

"The rain has had no impact on the schools, other than some leaking roofs ... As far as water encroaching on any of the schools, Ken White [school system Coordinating Supervisor of Maintenance] said there is water on the playground at Edmonds Elementary School [in Forest Park] that is from a creek that runs along the school property, but it's not close enough to have an impact on the school."

- Staff writer Curt Yeomans contributed to this article.