Chattanooga still vulnerable to once-in-500-years flood

Construction on Chickamauga Dam.

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View a topographic map that shows the elevations of Chattanooga neighborhoods

This is part two of a two-day series taking a look back at historic floods in Chattanooga. Read part one here.

Could a great flood such as those that happened 100 years ago in 1917 and 150 years ago in 1867 happen again?

Didn't the Tennessee Valley Authority build a dozen dams to control the Tennessee River so the city could never again be inundated?

Actually, no, according to Tom Barnett, the senior manager at TVA's operations center. "TVA's system of dams and reservoirs cannot prevent all flooding in the city," Barnett said in a recent interview.

As proof, he pointed to March 1973, when the river surged almost 40 feet above normal, more than 10 feet above the flood stage.