Georgia lake disappears after thunderstorm

A slow-moving thunderstorm dumped buckets of rain on parts of Coweta County, which is southwest of Atlanta, late Sunday afternoon.

By Monday morning, the lake, aside from a trickling spring-fed stream, was gone. The heavy summer thunderstorm stole the very lake that brought residents here.

“Around 6:30, my neighbor Ron Sills knocked on the door and said, ‘Harvey, look at the lake!’ Needless to say, I could not believe what I was looking at,” said Harvey Cooper.

“It’s gone. Nine years of everything is just gone here for me. Twenty years for Harvey, 10 years for this guy over here. It’s just devastating,” said Wayne Brown, who lives across the lake from Cooper.

The intensity of the rain was like something Brown hadn’t seen before.

“Nothing like this, nothing like this. Not that much rain at one time,” Brown said.

As the rain continued to pour down, the water became more turbulent.

“I looked down at the lake, and the mud and everything was coming across so fast,” said Brown.

While the neighborhood slept, a more than 50-year-old dam gave way, a 30-foot gash allowing water to rush out of Aspen Lake into downstream swamp.

Residents think an EF-1 tornado in January 2007 weakened the already aging dam.

“It came right across the dam,” said Cooper.

Now, one of the chains of lakes is nothing but thick mud.

“Boats for sale cheap. Ah, we don’t know what to do. We are at a loss,” said Cooper.

The Coweta County Board of Commissioners met with residents Tuesday night to advise them on options. Because the lake sits on private property, there isn’t much the county can do other than advise residents how to go about rebuilding the dam, a potentially costly task.

Wayne Brown wants the lake restored. He has countless family memories on it.

“I need it back for me, my grandkids. I mean, that was our life. That’s what we bought this place for,” said Brown.