Flood meeting
West Davenport residents listen intently as city officials share flood plans during a 1st Ward meeting at the Roosevelt Community Center. (Mark Ridolfi/QUAD-CITY TIMES) Mark Ridolfi

With major to severe flooding expected along the Mississippi River in the weeks ahead, a unified community effort will be needed to protect Davenport.

That was the message Alderman Nathan Brown, 1st ward, gave to people gathered Tuesday to hear about plans to safeguard people and property.

"The only way we can do this is to try and protect the area, not individual homes," Brown told the crowd of about 200 who met at the Roosevelt Center on the city's west side.

"This is not an individual effort, and it's not every man for himself. This has to be a team effort."

Brown, along with City Administrator Craig Malin and Public Works Director Mike Clarke, said that according to the latest National Weather Service flood outlook, there is a better than 50 percent chance the Mississippi could reach a record 24 feet in the Quad-Cities. Flood stage at Lock and Dam 15 is 15 feet.

Malin cautioned that there has not been a forecast of 24 feet; only an outlook indicating that the river could rise that high.

"No one has seen a flood of that magnitude," Brown said.

Clarke said that as early as Friday - and definitely by Saturday - sand, sandbags and other flood-fighting equipment will be delivered to the community center so people can help fill sandbags.

Brown said city crews also are trying to get sand and sandbags to Davenport high schools so students on spring break can help fill them.

When the floodwaters come, Brown said that if people want to stay in their homes, "that is your decision."

"But if we have to rescue you, it will take a little longer."

Clarke told the crowd that the levee along Blackhawk Creek, which runs through the west side, is being raised to 26 feet.

"It's not complicated," he said. "It's just a matter of raising it up and adjusting to what could be a record flood."

Among residents in the audience were Rick Pena, 28, and Samantha Dixon, 26, who moved to the area of Orchard Avenue and Concord Street about six months ago. Coming from East Moline, the couple have never been in a flood.

"We have no idea what to expect," Pena said.

Al Kump, owner of the Credit Island Bait Shop at 2304 W. River Drive, said that if someone could tell him how high the waters will be, he can fight them - maybe.

"At 21 feet, I have to move everything out of the shop," Kump said. "At 23 feet, I can protect my property.

"At 24 feet, no. I'm out of here"

If he could get enough clay from the city, Kump said he could build a dike around his business that could hold up against the waters. But a sandbag dike that holds against a 24-foot flood would be a miracle, he added.

Charles Conner, who has lived in the area for 33 years, was not happy that the flood was coming. However, he told the city representatives, "You can't do any more than what you're doing, and I appreciate it."

While the impending flood is bad news, Brown said, "The good news is we are west-enders and we're willing and able to fight it."