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Published on Sep 23, 2009
Her voice grows more concerned. Her cell phone goes out at 5:16 a.m. According to a police report, rescue crews tried to swim into the water to find her, but the waters were moving too fast, and they couldn't spot her. After about an hour, the waters receded. Her vehicle was 300 yards away. She was found across the back seats of her minivan. She was dressed in blue jeans, a green shirt and gray tennis shoes.
Burciaga, a Mexican immigrant, was to turn 40 on November 18. She was the mother of a 9-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter. Her ritual every night was to tuck them in bed before heading off to work.
"She would give them a blessing, a kiss," her husband told CNN.
Burciaga's death was one of at least eight in severe flooding that has shut down roads across north Georgia and caused gridlock on Atlanta's already congested highways.
Her death troubled even the most veteran law enforcement personnel.
"There's really no words to describe it," said Gwinnett County police spokesman David Shiralli. "We're here to save lives when we can. When we do everything in our power and we still fail at it, it makes us feel bad."
On the quiet street where Burciaga lived, residents made a makeshift memorial at the small bridge over the creek. Flowers were placed at the foot of the street; an angel figurine stood with her hands clasped in prayer.
Nearby, shrubbery was flattened, possibly from her vehicle. The creek was back to being a tiny waterway. Residents said it floods often during rainstorms, but they'd never seen anything like Monday.
"At night when it's dark and water is covering the road, you can't really see it. It's not the first time it has overran, but it's never been that high before," said Nathaniel Knight, who lived next door to Burciaga for the past five years.
Knight was still shaken by her death. "She's just a really nice person, a woman that works the night shift. Just so nice." He said he felt for her husband: "This just has to be horrible, just devastating for him."
A viewing for friends and relatives was held Tuesday evening. In nearby Duluth, her colleagues at Sam's Club were beginning their night shift, minus their colleague of the past decade.
"We've lost a valued member of our family, and we will always remember her smile," said store manager Annette Gillespie. "She was an outstanding associate and hard worker, but most importantly, she was our friend."
Her husband struggled for words. His favorite memory: "Her smile, how she was with my children. She loved them a lot. She gave them lots of love."