• Metro Atlanta Weather | Cleanup begins for Pickens, Gilmer counties


    GILMER COUNTY, Ga. - Residents are focusing on cleaning up one day after heavy rain caused flash floods in Gilmer and Pickens counties, leaving roads washed out and people stranded in their homes.

    Severe Weather Team 2 Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns said the most heavily affected areas saw about 4.4 inches of rain.

    In Gilmer County, about 15 families have been left stranded after flood waters washed out a road Thursday.

    Thursday afternoon, the water overwhelmed a culvert below White Oak Drive, washing the road away, which is the only access to about 15 houses on the other side.

    Gilmer County rescue crews took Channel 2's Ashley Swann along as they surveyed the damage Thursday's flash flooding did to their community.

    "We're seeing everything from minor to extreme major damage," Gilmer County Fire Chief Tony Pritchett said.

    Nearly 5 inches of rain fell in a short period of time Thursday, overwhelming the region's many rivers and creeks.

    On White Oak Drive, Pritchett said the first sign of trouble were the dozen calls for help that started pouring in around 6 a.m. from people needing rescue.

    Lewis Cantrell was one of those residents.

    "When I set up in the bed, I looked out and all I saw was water," Cantrell told Swann.

    Crews had to use a boat to get him, his wife, grandson and two dogs to safety.

    "You know, anything's possible. We got out. The rest of it's stuff," Cantrell said.

    And that stuff is now pretty much destroyed. Every inch of Cantrell's first floor home is covered in wet, slimy mud.

    Lewis said all he has left outside his home is a four wheeler and tractor.

    He and his wife suffered similar damage nine years ago after Hurricane Ivan and rebuilt. This time, they said their days of living so close to the creek are over.

    "The Lord works in mysterious ways and he's taken care of us. Like I said, we're here. The rest of it is stuff.

    Across the county, authorities evacuated 40 to 50 homes around Clear Creek after it flowed over its banks around 6 a.m. Thursday.

    Channel 2's Richard Elliot talked to one family who decided to ride out the flooding even though they had water flowing into their home.

    Elliot caught up with George and Sylvia Evans, who live along Blackberry Mountain Road in Ellijay, after the water finally receded from their home.

    "I saw the water was going back down when the fools got here, so I said, 'What's the point in leaving now?'" George Evans said.

    The Evanses said they reinforced their foundation after the last big round of floods in that area about 10 years ago.

    Their neighbor wasn't as fortunate.

    "That poor thing next door, that whole house just got moved over," George Evans said.

    Although they are thankful they survived, Sylvia Evans said she is devastated by the loss of most of her animals.

    "All my animals are dead," Sylvia Evans said. "My rabbits, chickens, ducks. I had little peeps in the back and they're all dead. That's the worst. I can handle this, but man, I can tell you what, they're my babies."

    In Pickens County, fire chief Bob Howard said the county was in a code red. He said crews had to rescue people two people from a truck that was stuck in a creek on Camp Hope Road at the Young Life Camp.

    Howard said there were no reports of injuries or entrapments from a mud slide on Burnt Mountain Road near Sate Road 136.

    Rescue crews also had to remove a school bus driver from a bus with downed power lines on it on Burnt Mountain Road. Howard said there were no students on the bus.

    A mandatory evacuation was in place for all residents along the Coosawattee River in Gilmer County.

    The Cobb County Fire Department said it has sent crews to Gilmer County to assist.

    The Red Cross set up a shelter at Gilmer Middle School for anyone in need of assistance. Power to most of east Ellijay is out due to downed power lines. Traffic lights may be out as a result, so drivers are urged to use extreme caution.

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