For a couple of business owners on the front lines of the flood fight in Moline, things look better in Davenport.
Matt Hines spent much of Friday in the parking lot of his River Drive business, Doug's Heating and Air Conditioning, filling sandbags with his employees. He has been doing business at 4530 River Drive in Moline for eight years, and the Mississippi River has flooded for four of them.
When he called the city's Public Works Department on Thursday, he said, he hoped to get some information on how high the floodwaters might get. Instead, he said, "They told me they have no idea what's going on.
"That's the bad thing about all of this: Where is the city?"
Doug House, general manager for Moline's Municipal Services, said he and his crews have done their best to make personal contact with all business owners affected by the flood and said Friday that he would get to the bottom of the poor communication with Hines.
"It is difficult to believe anyone in the organization would not know what's going on," he said. "I'll check with all the staff to make sure everyone is aware of exactly what we are doing.
"I've been trying to provide resources and help wherever I can. I've given my cellphone number to every business owner I've talked to and told them to call me if they need anything."
He said the city does not have an automated dialing system to contact residents and business owners in the path of floodwaters, but he said Rock Island County has been using a reverse 911 system to alert residents on the Rock River, where water levels are rising much faster than on the Mississippi River.
In chronically flood-prone areas of Davenport, such as Duck Creek and the Garden Addition, the city uses a robo-calling system to notify residents of possible flash flooding, for instance. Hines said the city of Moline should do something similar to help give home and business owners the best and most up-to-date information possible to best protect their property.
"They do a great job in Davenport," Hines said.
Upriver from his business, Mahieu Electric owner Mark Mahieu said he called Moline Public Works during the flood in 2011 and got a similarly disappointing response.
"They said they didn't help businesses," he said. "The city of Moline couldn't help me out with just a few people to look out for, but Davenport does it with hundreds of homes and businesses. I ended up calling Davenport Public Works, and I went over with my truck, expecting to pick up sandbags, and Davenport gave me bags they'd already filled.
"Moline's concerns are The Mark (i wireless Center), which won't get any water, and the old train depot."
This year, he said, the city has been more helpful.
"I think they remember me from the last flood, because they did drop off a load of sand. The sandbags were useless, because they didn't have any ties. Nobody can use those."
House said the city is experiencing a sandbag shortage, because the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, typically provides them but has not done so this year.
"We haven't gotten any ourselves from FEMA," he said. "It's so expensive to fight these natural disasters, in part because there are more of them. They have to make wise use of their resources.
"We're still sandbagging ourselves. It is important to protect the city's property and resources, too."
Mahieu said he appreciated the attention he got from a city surveyor Thursday.
"They marked on my building where they think the water will go," he said.
Hines said experience has given him a good idea where the water will end up at Doug's Heating.
"At a height of 18 feet (the crest is predicted at 19.7 feet), it gets up in the parking lot," he said. "We do have some seepage inside, too, but we keep stuff up off the floor. We'll get it again this year when things melt up north."
Keeping watch on the Rock
Although the projected crest on the Mississippi River was lowered Friday, some residents on the Rock River in Moline were hunkering down for a potentially record-breaking flood.
"I'm working from home today, so I can keep an eye on the place," Amy Tomlinson said of her home on North Shore.
As floodwaters crept closer to her home, she said, "I took my car out of the garage, but I can see I'm going to have to move it again."
Meanwhile, at the home downriver from Tomlinson's, a crew of four men was hauling leather furniture from the home to the garage, which is at a slightly higher elevation.
"I'm glad I'm not doing that," Tomlinson said. "We already got everything off the garage floor. We're used to this."
Flood dries up Freight House businesses
A couple sat at a table of Farm Fresh Deli on Friday afternoon as Ed Kraklio gestured at the floor-to-ceiling windows.
In the past two days, pelicans paddled nearby, large trees floated past and gawkers drive through the Freight House parking lot as the Mississippi River eased into LeClaire Park.
"People have been driving through, taking pictures," he said. "Come on in, support local businesses."
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The flood hasn't been good for business at Kraklio's restaurant, especially since the city closed River Drive. He's been assured floodwaters won't reach the Freight House parking lot, but he needs customers to reach the parking lot.
"I warned employees they might work short shifts," he said. "Down here, everyone thinks it's closed. That will hurt us, Front Street, the food hub and the farmers market."
The Freight House is accessible from Ripley Street and Western Avenue. Florian Keen parking lot is open, but the city advises drivers to avoid standing water.
Sara Mini Mart open despite flood
The Sara Mini Mart and gas station on Davenport's flooded River Drive will remain open through the weekend, its determined manager said Friday as the Mississippi continued to rise.
"We are trying to hold up here," Sandip Kandel said. "I'm checking the water level every 15 minutes."
At 22 feet, water will creep up to the store's entrance and the parking lot and gas pump area will be under water, Kandel said. The river is expected to crest just below 20 feet by Sunday.
But Kandel is used to living in the Midwest, and especially in the Quad-Cities, where forecasts can change several times a day, he said.
"I think we'll be fine," he said.
River Drive is closed through downtown Davenport. Second Street west of Marquette Street is closed. Drivers can access Sara Mini Mart by way of 2nd Street.
No volunteers, no problem
This time around, Davenport's flood fight wasn't one for the masses.
The city didn't put out a call for volunteers to fill sandbags, instead relying on city workers and three sandbag-making machines. The machines, with four people, can make as many sandbags as 10 people can in an hour.
"We’ve gotten so good at what we do we don’t need a whole lot of help anymore," Public Works Director Mike Clarke said Friday. "Not that we don’t like the public to lend a hand."
The city produced 40,000 sandbags, Clarke said. Fewer are needed as flood protection at Credit Island, at Union Station and on River Drive uses Hesco barriers. Modern Woodmen Park has permanent flood protection that only needs installation.
Not putting out a call for help caught some city officials off guard.
"It raised a few eyebrows among the staff because we have asked the public for help in so many events. But we have gone beyond that," the public works director said. "With the aid of technology, we get better."