Without TVA, much of Chattanooga would now be underwater

Record February rains raise river 12 feet

Waves crash as the Chickamauga Dam spills water on Friday, March 1, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Tennessee Valley Authority's management of the Tennessee River during recent heavy rain has saved the region from significant flooding.

After Mother Nature dumped a record high rainfall on the Tennessee Valley in February following the wettest year on record last year, the Tennessee River has risen 12 feet above normal in Chattanooga and is within 3 feet of flood stage.

The high water has shut down river navigation and flooded thousands of acres downstream in Alabama, Mississippi and West Tennessee. But the Tennessee Valley Authority estimates its network of 49 dams and river control operations helped avoid at least $1.6 billion of flood damage, most of it in Chattanooga, where much of the city would have been underwater without TVA.

"This has been one for the record books and we're doing everything we can, working around the clock to limit as much flooding as we can from all this rain," said James Everett, manager of the TVA River Forecast Center in Knoxville.

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