Public Safety

Davenport to reinforce barriers if water drops to 18 feet

Pumps continue to move water out of the basement of Bootleg Hill Honey Meads located along Second Street in downtown Davenport on Monday, May 6, 2019. (John Schultz/Quad-City Times)
Pumps continue to move water out of the basement of Bootleg Hill Honey Meads located along Second Street in downtown Davenport on Monday, May 6, 2019. (John Schultz/Quad-City Times)
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DAVENPORT — If weather predictions for the next week come to pass, Davenport’s public works department may fix the temporary flood wall that broke last week as a way to head off future rising of the Mississippi River.

Davenport Public Works Director Nicole Gleason said Monday the river would still have to drop to less than 18 feet before crews and equipment could safely work. If the river rises again, the repairs could prevent another round of downtown flooding.

Gleason also said her department is working with others — including the Davenport Fire Department — as the city prepares to dry out.

“We’re trying to get all those employees scheduled now so that if this forecast continues to hold true we’re ready to just go,” Gleason said.

The temporary flood wall, made of barriers by manufacturer HESCO, breached last week in record-setting conditions. At no time in recorded history has the river been as high and at flood stage for so long in the Quad Cities and some nearby river communities.

HESCO has said the downtown Davenport breach was not caused by a structural fault of the barrier. Officials are still unsure if the river rose above the barrier or if the road beneath it collapsed.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has downgraded earlier estimates that the river might go even higher this week. Some of the storms predicted to hit the Quad Cities moved to the south and west, replaced by sunshine and clear skies over the weekend.

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But some heavy rain was still expected to hit Tuesday and Wednesday with a 40 percent chance on Thursday.

“We’re definitely going to get rain,” said Terry Simmons, a meteorologist for the weather service in Davenport. A cold front began moving through Eastern Iowa and western Illinois on Monday, with rain and thunderstorms in tow.

The front will settle across the area, Simmons said, and more moisture is coming up from the Gulf of Mexico late Tuesday into Wednesday night to produce heavy rainfall up to 3 inches.

Still, Gleason says the city is working to have plans in place that will reopen Centennial Bridge within the next week. And the temporary flood wall in the East Village may soon be taken down if current weather predictions hold.

In the West End, Gleason said public works crews are constantly monitoring the dike holding back more floodwater as neighboring Black Hawk Creek continues to run high. She said that area will remain a concern until the water recedes.

“These dry days just need to continue for us,” Gleason said.

Gleason also said her department will continue to provide updates to the community about its flooding response.

“We just really appreciate everyone’s patience,” Gleason said. “We are working as quickly as we can and trying to use our resources in the smartest way possible to get things cleaned up and open. But we’re at the mercy of the river receding and just hoping that it stays on the trajectory it’s on now.”

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