Government

Iowa flooding comes up in Democratic debate

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee cites Davenport damage as example of climate change

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democratic candidate for president, meets in May with a board member from Dress for Success Quad Cities, a Davenport nonprofit that was damaged by Mississippi River flooding. Inslee referenced the damage as an example of the “terrific impact” of climate change during the Wednesday night nationally televised debate for 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls. (Bill Lukitsch/Quad-City Times)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democratic candidate for president, meets in May with a board member from Dress for Success Quad Cities, a Davenport nonprofit that was damaged by Mississippi River flooding. Inslee referenced the damage as an example of the “terrific impact” of climate change during the Wednesday night nationally televised debate for 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls. (Bill Lukitsch/Quad-City Times)

DAVENPORT — Regina Haddock didn’t watch the Democratic presidential candidates debate Wednesday night on TV.

But shortly after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee made a brief reference to the Dress for Success nonprofit Haddock has led for the past nine years, the messages started rolling in.

“My phone sort of blew up after that,” she said.

More than 9 million people watched the second debate on CNN between 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls.

Inslee, who has made climate change the top priority of his campaign for president, got the first question of the night on that subject.

The governor used two examples to describe the “terrific impact” of climate change that he’s witnessed firsthand: Paradise, Calif., where wildfires largely destroyed the city of 26,000 last year, and Davenport, where Mississippi River flooding inundated parts of lower downtown in late April.

“We have to act now,” said Inslee, who did not mention Dress for Success by name but referred to the Davenport nonprofit as having been “washed away in the floods.”

“Look, climate change is not a singular issue,” he added. “It is all the issues that we Democrats care about. It is health, it is national security, it is our economy.”

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Inslee toured Davenport in mid-May, meeting with state and local officials, business owners and Dress for Success leaders. Haddock was one of them.

After a brief conversation with Inslee, Haddock recalls, he pulled out his wallet and handed her $20. She was happy to see that he “just donated to the cause on the spot.”

Dress for Success connects women with professional attire and job coaching to help them re-enter the workforce.

The nonprofit was one of dozens of downtown spaces hit by a historic flood that has cost Davenport roughly $1.3 million in overtime.

Rough estimates for total individual losses — like structural damages and lost economic activity — are expected to be in the millions of dollars.

For its part, Haddock says the nonprofit still is getting back on its feet. The Heart of America Group donated a temporary space to Dress for Success that has allowed the group to continue its mission while a permanent relocation is in the works, Haddock said.

Haddock said she is glad Inslee is keeping a spotlight on climate change. And she’s thankful his message appears to be “encouraging a national conversation” about what’s happening in Davenport and around the world.

“It’s an important topic,” she said. “We shouldn’t just say, ‘Oh well, it’s just politics.’ It’s not. It’s real.”

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