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TVA prepares for more rain by spilling millions of gallons of water per second through dams

The Tennessee River in Florence is at 20.5 ft. Flood stage is 18 ft.

Posted: Feb 7, 2020 4:38 PM
Updated: Feb 10, 2020 11:21 AM

The Tennessee River in Florence is 2 1/2 feet above the flood stage of 18 feet. That's caused a part of McFarland Park in Florence to close because of flooding.

Officials closed the park on Thursday and evacuated campers. Currently, the Tennessee River is at 20.5 feet, and Wilson Dam is spilling 1.8 million gallons of water per second. TVA told WAAY31 they will increase those spills to 1.9 million by Sunday.

TVA said it will be aggressively spilling water for the next several days through North Alabama's dams in preparation for more rain next week. At McFarland Park, which sits on the Tennessee River in Florence, police have put barriers up to keep people out of the park because of flooding.

"The first thing I said to him was, 'Wow, babe, look at the water. Look at how high it is,'" said Frances Wakefield, who is visiting Florence from Wisconsin.

Wakefield told WAAY31 she and her husband visit Florence often and she was a little shocked to see the water up at McFarland Park.

"I'm surprised because me and my husband will come and walk here in the summer all around," said Wakefield.

The places Wakefield normally walks are now underwater, but this site is eerily normal for people who live in Florence.

"I think we're more aware of the flood areas and avoid those better than I think we used to be," said Diane Dennis, who lives in Florence. "I'm real proud of how TVA does the dams, so this passes through as gentle as it could because water is dangerous."

TVA and emergency management officials are urging people to stay off the river and away from the dam because these currents are dangerous. McFarland Park is also built to withstand flooding, so there shouldn't be much damage. Officials moved heavy equipment to higher ground in preparation for the river to rise.

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