It’s been a long, sodden spring for Davenport Public Works employees, police, firefighters and riverside residents, but the end is in sight.
The expectation that the crest would move through the Quad-Cities overnight Friday means the Mighty Mississippi should begin slowly slipping back into her banks after today.
“We will be going from flood fighting to cleanup probably starting Monday if not Sunday,” Public Works Director Mike Clarke said. “Our flood protections are holding out remarkably well. The water in some places is 3 feet up on 4-foot-tall Hesco barriers, and they’re holding.”
The river stood at 20.69 feet at 8 p.m. Friday and was expected to reach 20.8 feet before beginning to fall. Flood stage at Lock and Dam 15 in Rock Island is 15 feet.
While the river will begin receding, workers are staying on high alert, Clarke said. Crews are on 24-hour watch operations, with one crew monitoring downtown infrastructure and another keeping an eye on the levee near the west-side Garden Addition. There also are engineering structural experts regularly checking the integrity of the Hesco bastions.
There are 15 pumps in operation at various locations, with 15 more on standby. All have mechanics on duty 24 hours a day.
“Here it is,” Clarke said Friday afternoon of the pending crest. “I was out and about this morning, and everything is looking good.”
Davenport police have been pleased with the reaction of the public to this year’s flood. Despite detours, closed roads and other flood-induced hazards and inconveniences, there have been few public safety issues, Chief Frank Donchez said.
“This is the third year in four we’ve had to deal with it, and the public knows what to expect,” he said. “It’s not business-as-usual, but we’re not in crisis mode.”
The department has 40 officers working overtime each day on flood-related enforcement. Many are posted at specific sites to discourage gawkers. Others are assisting traffic detours and making sure people are not going down closed roads. Earlier this year, the department purchased life vests and floating throw rings in anticipation of spring flooding. That equipment accompanies all squads working flood detail, but none has had to be put to use, Donchez said.
Lt. Mike Venema, who heads up the department’s traffic bureau, said people are paying good attention to detour routes, planning alternatives and remaining patient despite major arterials such as Locust Street getting backed up with heavier-than-normal traffic loads.
“We really appreciate the way things have been flowing,” he said. “Communication has been good between the city and the public. It’s more of an inconvenience than a crisis.”
As floodwaters recede, clean up will begin in earnest, Clarke said. One of the first orders of business will be getting the fire department out to spray and disinfect streets and sidewalks that have been under polluted floodwaters.
“More than one city is dumping sewage directly into (the river) right now,” he said.
As for LeClaire and Centennial parks and other grassy areas, he and parks and recreation Director Seve Ghose have a few options at hand. There is a decent chance the current grass can be saved, and crews will try using fertilizer and fresh water to bring it back first. If that fails, a combination of sod replacement and reseeding can be tried.
“We are prepared for either recovery or replacement,” Clarke said.