(WBIR) Sunday marked the fifth anniversary of the Kingston Coal Ash Spill.
On a frigid morning, back in 2008, an outer wall to the coal ash pond at the Kingston Fossil Plant collapsed, pouring millions of gallons of coal ash into the Clinch and Emory rivers.
The clean-up process is still going on.
"We were like any small town," said Kingston Mayor Troy Beets of the city before the spill occurred.
He said there's hardly a day that goes by in which he is not reminded of the ash spill that destroyed houses, clogged rivers and changed lives.
More Information: TVA Ash Spill Measured in Billions Five Years Later
"Of course nothing like this had ever happened and none of us knew exactly what to do or how to do it," he said.
After the spill, TVA bought 180 properties in the Swan Pond Community, near Kingston. The agency, with the help of the EPA, also took to dredging the river free of ash.
Five years later, the clean-up and recovery has cost TVA more than $1 billion.
But, TVA was also tasked with helping the community, including Kingston. It spent money on local economic development initiatives.
Beets said that money went toward building a new water line and sewer plant for his city.
"We've come a long way and a lot of that is due to the results of the ash spill," he said.
But the communities of Swan Pond and Kingston have not been the only ones to see changes in the aftermath of the ash spill.
All of Roane County has been affected as well.
TVA put $32 million into Roane County's school system.
It also assisted with preservation projects like the Princess Theater in Harriman.
But, there is still more work to be done in Roane County. Beets said the spill impacted outsiders' view of Kingston.
"The bell was rung all over the United States, and even some internationally, that Kingston was a city that was under feet of fly ash," he said.
Beets said, sometime next year, county leaders will begin talks on how erase those memories from the nation's mindset.They have held on to $1 million of TVA money that will go toward a future P-R strategy