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'A lot of sad people in Ivey': Lake Tchukolako's dam floods for second time

Phil Mills owns Mills Industrial Construction that just finished re-building the dam last summer– eight months ago. Now, the lake is dry again.

IVEY, Ga. — Folks near Wilkinson County's Lake Tchukolako say they are devastated after their newly rebuilt dam breached for the second time in three years.

Now, the lake is empty again.     

Folks say on Monday morning, you could walk or even drive to the dirt path leading to the dam in the center of the lake. Now, it's all been washed away by the flood. 

They said the lake had been filled up with so much water, it was rushing over the entire half mile stretch of the dam.

"All the other ponds, and pits, and everything flows into here. So, it's been more water than we've ever seen,” Phil Mills said.

Mills owns Mills Industrial Construction who just finished re-building the dam last summer– eight months ago.

He says the old one broke three years ago because it was over a century old and was poorly maintained. 

"The problem came from the water backing up from the existing railroad track behind it because it won't let it escape as much as let it in. It was able to eat up the dam and that's what blew it out,” he said.

After the dam burst, the lake was drained.

Folks say Mills brought the community together to start raising money to build the new one with his own company. 

"When we built the dam, the safe dam people asked us to cut the dam 15 to 12 inches, which had a lot to do with it because instead of running around as much as it would have, it went running over it,” Mills said.

Now, the lake is dry again.

"I was numb, we were numb,” Leigh Scott said.

 Scott says the water rose so high, it flooded underneath her house. 

“We didn’t get much sleep last night because the dam burst around 1 o'clock this morning,” Scott said. “It was just unbelievable how much water was coming in."

Scott helped Mills raise money for the dam. She says they raised over $100,000 in a year and a half. 

"It’s a shame because we worked so hard to raise the money, and then we had volunteers to clean out the lake,” Scott said. 

Lynn Hogg says her house wasn’t affected by the flooding, but she knows the lake meant a lot to folks. 

"I thought when I walked out of my house this morning, there's a lot of sad people this morning in Ivey, Georgia,” she said.

Lynn Hogg says the dam took two years to build and they had just restocked the lake with fish.

"It was such a pleasure to walk by during the day to see the lake, now it's basically, you know, down to nothing.” 

GEMA says engineers and the state Environmental Protection Agency will head to Ivey to see the damage. 

The city says their sewer pipes also burst during the flood. They say the system was turned off before the breach, and no sewage was mixed in the water.

Scott said they had raised over $100,000 the first time around. She says they hadn't fully paid back the Mill's company for the repairs yet.

They hope to apply for grants to fix the dam soon. 

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