Public Safety

Davenport sees record Mississippi crest, braces for more

Reynolds to visit Quad-Cities on Friday

HESCO barriers have been installed at Mound Strett and River Drive to protect the SENB Bank and other buildings from the flooding Mississippi River. The flooding in Davenport has set two records — a 22.7-foot crest and the longest number of days — 41 — over major flood stage. (John Schultz/Quad-City Times)
HESCO barriers have been installed at Mound Strett and River Drive to protect the SENB Bank and other buildings from the flooding Mississippi River. The flooding in Davenport has set two records — a 22.7-foot crest and the longest number of days — 41 — over major flood stage. (John Schultz/Quad-City Times)
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DAVENPORT — The Mississippi River rose to record-setting levels Thursday, giving the Flood of ’19 its place in history.

And it could get worse: There’s a probability of heavy rain next week, and weather forecast models are bringing a new round of fear and uncertainty to those battling the water.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to visit Davenport on Friday to survey the flooding that has closed dozens of businesses, forced long detours from both U.S. 67/River Drive and Second Street, sealed access to the Government Bridge and caused the city’s water pollution control plant to divert sanitary sewer water into the Mississippi River.

It also has shut down the Canadian Pacific Railroad, despite the railroad’s raising of tracks through the downtown.

Several downpours early this week, including one record-setting day of rain, contributed to the predicted crest of 22.7 feet on Thursday night into Friday.

That tops the previous record of 22.63 feet set July 9, 1993.

As of Friday, the river will have been at major flood stage, or 18 feet, for 41 consecutive days, surpassing the 31-day record set in 2001. The flood stage begins at 15 feet.

“Honestly, this is unprecedented,” said Public Works Director Nicole Gleason. “Some of it (city’s response) is going to be reactionary.”

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She said some early forecasts are calculating as much as 4 more inches of rain early next week. Even if the rainfall is north of the Quad-Cities, it will affect river levels as the water flows downstream.

Gleason offered assurances that flood barriers that are in place downtown, in the village of East Davenport and in the Garden Addition are being constantly monitored, and pumps are in use or are standing by.

However, nothing can be done to repair the breach earlier in the week that sent floodwater gushing into portions of downtown.

In previous years, the system of HESCO barriers — interconnected cages containing sand and covered in plastic — have held back floodwaters from getting past River Drive.

But at least one of the barriers somehow separated from the line Tuesday, and the breach cannot be replaced with a new section because the water is too high to get at it.

Another breach near Ripley Street was caused by an erosion of the street underneath, Gleason said.

At 12:45 p.m. Thursday, the Mississippi River, which has a flood stage of 15 feet, measured a record 22.64 feet at Lock & Dam 1 in Rock Island, across the river from Davenport.

In Muscatine, the Mississippi River measured 24.07 feet, with an expected crest of 24.5 feet Friday and Friday night. Its flood stage is 16 feet.

The Mississippi in Rock Island may be down to 22.5 feet by Saturday morning, and possibly 22.1 feet by Sunday morning, the National Weather Service said.

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