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TVA shares flood results

Some time has passed since the infamous rainfall and flooding of north Alabama that took place in February – enough time for the Tennessee Valley Authority to officially release its collected findings from the event.

Robin Peak with River Management said February 2019 was the wettest February on record in the Tennessee Valley, with 11.6 average inches of rain. Here in the western portion of the valley 12.6 inches of rain fell.

This heavy rainfall, of course, followed 2018, which was the rainiest year on record in the valley with 67 total inches of rain, Peak said – beating the previous record of 65 inches in 1973.

“It’s been a strange year,” Peak said. “Normally in mid-March we’re discussing filling the reservoirs. This year we were trying to draw them down to flood guide elevations.”

Flood guide elevations represent the height at which the TVA wants the water level, in preparation for further rainfall. As of right now, Peak said the reservoirs are on target to be full for the summer season.

The reservoirs are what helped avert $1.6 billion of flood damage across TVA’s coverage area, explained Scott Fielder with TVA Public Relations. They store the water and release it at reasonable volumes.

Flood stage was reached in Chattanooga at 30 feet of water. Fielder said TVA created an inundation map that showed what could have happened if the reservoirs weren’t in place. The result: the airport was gone, the highways were destroyed, and parts of the city were transformed into islands.

Fielder said in other words, without TVA’s reservoir system the Tennessee Valley, including Franklin County, could have seen flood damage on a much grander scale.

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