Davenport cranks up flood fight

2013-04-18T13:30:00Z 2013-04-18T20:04:07Z Davenport cranks up flood fightKurt Allemeier kallemeier@qctimes.com The Quad-City Times

Heavy rains and a rapidly rising Mississippi River caused headaches but didn't divert Davenport employees from the city's flood plan.

The city has a 400-step plan to fight flooding on the Mississippi River, now projected to reach a crest of 20.2 feet Sunday, more than 5 feet above the 15-foot flood stage in the Quad-Cities. Two days of heavy rain caused some street flooding, but the city kept on course.

Public Works Director Mike Clarke praised the flood plan but acknowledged the challenges caused by the weather.

"It is not chaotic. It is fluid," he said of flood preparations. "Water has shown up in so many locations."

The city is setting its flood protection at 22 feet. Clarke said an additional one-and-a-half to 2 feet above the prediction takes into account potential wave action.

The biggest problem in preparing for the flood was Wednesday's thunderstorms that brought lightning, Clarke said.

"We have strict rules about how we handle lightning strikes, and that is to take cover indoors," he said. "That took a number of working hours away from us.

"It won't take away from our accomplishing our targeted projections," he said.

When city officials start the flood plan into action, the streets department carries the banner, followed by the sewer department. The street flooding was monitored by sewer workers, Clarke said.

The heavy rain overnight into Thursday prompted part of River Drive and Eastern Avenue to be closed. River Drive from Division Street in Davenport to Bettendorf was closed Thursday afternoon to start construction of the wall of Hesco barriers. That task is expected to take about a day-and-a-half.

Also on the city to-do list ahead of the weekend: a 2-foot-tall sandbag wall around Union Station, completion of the floodwall around Modern Woodmen Park, an elevated walkway to the baseball stadium and River's Edge.

Public Works has delivered sand and sandbags to five to 10 addresses that requested them, Clarke said.

"They come from the places we've served before — the bait shop, a couple of River Drive businesses," he said.

The Iowa American Water is also working to protect its plant located west of Mound Street, Clarke said. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of that flood protection.

"We've been told they are in good shape and will be able to protect it," Clarke said.

Davenport workers are on extended overtime, with a few people working overnight. Once all the flood protection measures are in place, the streets workers will switch to a snowplowing schedule with two 12-hour shifts.

Clarke said the thinking of city officials was that the Quad-Cities would dodge a flood since the winter wasn't very active.

"We thought we were going to get a bye," he said. "Then we got this precipitation event."

The city's flood plan starts with various tasks when the river is forecast to reach 10 feet.

"That shows we've been watching this flood for three weeks," he said.

If the crest reaches 20.2 feet, it would be the seventh-highest crest on record.

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