As the water began to rise above Joy Medford's neighbor's tires and past the bumpers Monday afternoon, she knew it was time to leave her Fort Oglethorpe apartment.
With a baby on one hip, bags in the other hand and a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old running through the knee-deep water covering the complex parking lot, Medford was able to evacuate before the water was too high.
"I didn't want to take any chances," she said.
Several hours later, Fort Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue teams had to evacuate 34 residents by boat from the Battlewood Apartments as the remains of Tropical Storm Lee fell in sheets across the region.
More than 8 inches of rain had fallen by Monday night, causing rivers and creeks to flood and water to rise above roads in the Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia regions.
Forecasters said the worst of the flooding was expected today.
North Georgia counties were under a flash flood watch until this morning, said Nate Mayes, a National Weather Service forecaster in Peachtree City, Ga.
In Cherokee County, one man was injured when falling debris from winds, possibly from a tornado, hit him, The Associated Press reported.
In Catoosa County, residents experienced a five-hour communication blackout when the Ringgold Telephone Co.'s line went down at noon.
In Cleveland, Tenn., water began to seep under doors of at least four schools by afternoon, mildly flooding gyms and a school cafeteria, the system's director said.
"The water is so high in the area [the drains] aren't draining," said Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of Cleveland City Schools.
Cleveland High School had water in the science wing. At Cleveland Middle, water was pouring under the auditorium doors and gym, and George R. Stuart Elementary also had water in the auditorium and gym and standing water was soaking into carpet, Ringstaff said.
Arnold Memorial Elementary School had water in the cafeteria.
But Ringstaff said schools personnel had placed sandbags in low areas, and officials hoped to have the water removed by Tuesday afternoon as long as the flooding didn't get worse.
"We haven't seen anything that has shocked us yet," he said. "It's just so much water so quick."
Both Bradley County and Cleveland schools were canceled today.
In Catoosa County, stranded residents of the Battlewood Apartments were bused to Lakeview Middle School, and other displaced residents were expected to stay at the gym there overnight.
But Catoosa County Schools spokeswoman Marissa Brower said the shelter was in the auxiliary gym and wasn't expected to get in the way of the first day of classes.
Officials planned to start school at two hours late, Brower said.
Correspondent Paul Leach and staff writer Ellis Smith contributed to this story.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...