Threats found in major dams in Tennessee

Josh Dove makes his way along the riverwalk at Chickamauga Dam as a large flow of water pours through the spillway on December 28, 2015.

Although the Tennessee Valley Authority dams have saved Chattanooga millions of dollars in flood damages, they are no guarantee against an extreme flood, as seen recently in California, TVA officials said.

As recently as 1973, torrential rains flooded the Tennessee River and South Chickamauga Creek, closing Lovell Field and causing some $35 million in damages.

As a result, levees were built along South Chickamauga Creek, but they would not be sufficient in the event of an extreme storm, said Tom Barnett, senior manager of TVA's river forecast center.