CHATTANOOGA, TN (Times Free Press) -- The dams and reservoirs of the Tennessee Valley Authority helped avert $710 million of flood damage in Chattanooga last month after an average of 10 inches of rain fell across the drainage area that flows through Chattanooga.

TVA said today it estimates its 49 dams helped store enough water across its 7-state region to avoid $800 million of damage to low-lying areas in the Tennessee Valley. January's rain fall was more than twice the typical level. TVA spokesman Travis Brickey said last month was the third wettest January in TVA's 80-year history.

Most of the advantage was realized in Chattanooga. The rain that falls on more than 20,000 square miles of land in East Tennessee, western North Carolina and Virginia and Northern Georgia flows into the Tennessee River through Chattanooga.

TVA is in the third week of spilling water through its nine mainstream dams as it tries to recover from January's above-average rainfall, which raised the lake levels on TVA reservoirs far above their normal winter pool.

Read more from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.