Residents deal with rising waters, in creeks and basements

2013-04-18T17:15:00Z 2013-10-08T23:18:27Z Residents deal with rising waters, in creeks and basementsTimes staff The Quad-City Times

Dan Brown figures he just got lazy, and he was paying the price Thursday.

As Duck Creek surged out of its banks nearby, heavy rains overnight pushed up into Brown's basement at 3128 Dubuque St., Davenport.

A longtime resident of the neighborhood just off Brady Street, Brown didn't take the precautions he normally does, so there was 3 feet of water in his basement.

As a result, he was struggling to get an old pump started so he could get the water out of his house.

"I didn't think it was going to happen," he said.

It did. The rain over the past couple of days also pushed the creek out of its banks, inundating the Duck Creek Recreational Trail in spots.

In Davenport, water lapped close to Lawrence Lopez' home near 32nd and Sheridan streets.

Luckily, he said, there was no water in his basement, but he was prevented from getting his car out of the garage. He said he figured he would be fine and would continue to keep an eye on his basement.

"It's starting to recede already," he said mid-morning.

In fact, by mid-afternoon, the water had gone down significantly in spots, although it still was moving quickly downstream.

Maren Stoflet, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service, said the creek began receding early in the day.

All the rain meant water in a lot of basements, according to a check of a handful of plumbing and sewer service companies.

Brown, who said he moved into his house just after the disastrous 1990 Duck Creek flood, said he has seen worse. Several years ago, flooding pushed water up the stairs and close to the first floor.

He said he would pump this water out, too.

"It's not that bad," he said. "I needed a new washer, anyway."

Sewage floods basements

Several blocks from Duck Creek, near the intersection of Scott and Garfield streets in Davenport, Aubrey and Ryan Ingersoll stood in their front yard and showed a video of sewage pouring out of their basement toilet. As the rain eased up Thursday morning, they watched the water level in their basement rise.

"No one on the block can take a shower or flush their toilets because it comes right back up," she said.

The heavy rain overpowered their sump pump and then went over their basement electric fixtures, so the power was cut. The water kept coming. They complain it won't leave and point out their house sits higher than houses near Junge Park that stayed dry.

Other neighbors complain they can't get water out of their houses. Dan McDevitt, who lives a block south, said he woke to go to work and found about 3 feet of water in his basement. He was running a pump to get it out.

He experienced basement flooding during a heavy overnight rain in 2008 and added a clause to cover damage, so he finds some relief in that. He doesn't like that he has to take time off from work to deal with it. He, too, says the water has overstayed its welcome.

"We shouldn't have to keep pumping," he said. "It should recede.

"They need to get to the bottom of it. I'm not alone. I'm speaking for a lot of people."

Davenport Public Works Director Mike Clarke said people need to have sufficient sump pumps and a backflow valve on their sanitary sewer to prevent problems. If people think the city is at fault, they should contact the city's risk management office.

"People have to take proper steps to protect their property," Clarke said. "If they think the city is at fault, contact the city's risk department and an assessor will come out.

"That should be their first point of entry. We welcome their call because they might point to a possible problem, but it could just be the pipes are full of water."

LeClaire Park under water

The rising Mississippi River flooded much of Davenport's LeClaire Park by noon.

Steven Sager of Davenport rode his bicycle to a portion of the LeClaire Park bandshell seating area that was still dry to take pictures of the flood to send to his friend in Oregon.

"This is not as bad as when I was a youngster in '65," Sager said of the 1965 Mississippi River flood. He was 9 at the time and recalled filling sandbags in Clinton.

This time, the Mississippi is expected to crest this weekend at 20.2 feet.

Thursday morning, a Davenport city crew was putting up a floodwall around Modern Woodmen Park. Floodwalls were being erected around the LeClaire Park area.

Residents prepare for flood

Ed Marple has Spencer Creek to the northeast of his home just off of South Spencer Road near Pleasant Valley, and the Mississippi River in his back yard.

Standing on his front steps Thursday morning, Marple said that when the creek and the river both leave their banks, "they meet right here."

Marple and his neighbors were busy Thursday morning getting their belongings up off the ground in anticipation of a flood.

Marple said he had put some of the items in his garage up on saw horses, and several neighbors were preparing to move their vehicles farther inland along South Spencer Road. From there, they will have to use boats to get to their homes along the Mississippi.

"There's no battling it here," he said. "You just have to let it go."

Farther southwest, along 246th Avenue, Rick Carpenter and Marvin Cane were loading furniture and other items from the lower level of Carpenter's home into a trailer to move them to Carpenter's shop in Bettendorf.

Carpenter said he was fortunate to have a concrete slab floor, which allows him to open the garage door at the front of his house and the back door that leads to the boat dock behind his house and just let the water flow through.

"It doesn't hurt me too bad," he said. "I just let it dry and scrape the mud out."

Bettendorf Public Works Director Brian Schmidt said Thursday afternoon that the city had delivered sandbags to Carpenter's neighborhood on Thursday. He said Bettendorf residents who need sandbags can get them at the Public Works Annex, 4403 Devils Glen Road.

On West Harbor Drive, John Bellig was busy Thursday morning pulling the carpet out of the lower level of his home. He said the culprit was not the rising harbor of the Mississippi River behind his home, but the overnight deluge of rain.

"All my pumps were working," he said. "They just couldn't keep up."

Carpenter said the basement still was dry when he checked it at midnight.

"I got up around 5 o'clock, and it was just sopped," he said.

Deere mansion wall tumbles

A portion of the nearly block-long retaining wall at the John Deere Mansion in Moline is among the casualties of days of pounding rain.

A section of the wall on 12th Street tumbled to the ground sometime late Wednesday or early Thursday, leaving a chunk of concrete and dirt that has rendered the sidewalk impassable.

The city barricaded the landslide, but the only person tending to the wreckage Thursday was a member of the Moline Preservation Society.

Jolene Keeney said the wall failure was predictable, given its decades of deterioration and neglect. She said members of the society solicited estimates to have the wall rebuilt in 2003, and the cost was more than $700,000.

"Imagine the cost, 10 years later," she said.

Keeney took it upon herself Thursday to attempt to salvage the ornamental iron that was attached to the top of the concrete wall. The small saw she brought from home was insufficient for separating sections of iron from concrete, so she was making calls to the city to try to get help.

"If we leave this here for an hour, somebody will come along and steal it," she said. "The owner isn't going to take care of it."

City Administrator Lew Steinbrecher said he shares Keeney's skepticism over the future of the steep bluff that leads to the mansion and of the remainder of the retaining wall.

The house itself, the long-ago home of the agriculture magnate, changed hands two years ago. The sale followed a several-year dispute between the city and former mansion owner Roger Colmark. The Sterling, Ill., accountant repeatedly failed to meet deadlines for making progress on the historic home, and it was sold to Moline native Chris Baker in April 2011.

Baker, who now lives in suburban Chicago, did not take title of the entire property, however, and Colmark retained ownership of the hillside and wall.

"This is indeed an unfortunate situation that there is an irresponsible property owner who refuses to mitigate the problem and refuses to comply with municipal citations and court orders," Steinbrecher said Thursday. "The city has had multiple judgments against Mr. Colmark in past years, with no success of achieving compliance. Again, even though he is still the owner of record of this parcel of land, obtaining another judgment against him will be of little to no value, given his unwillingness to accept responsibility for this property.

"And, given the absence of direction from the City Council otherwise, the city of Moline has no responsibility in maintaining the wall, so it is currently the administration’s position to clean up any debris that falls into the public right-of-way and to barricade access to the area along this wall that is unsafe for pedestrian traffic."

Also in Moline, workers at the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce, 622 19th St., discovered the overnight downpour made its way into their basement in a big way.

A contractor who was hired to pump out the rainwater estimated it was 3 feet deep when he arrived Thursday.

Chamber spokeswoman Jillian McCleary reported no measurable damage, saying the basement does not house any office or computer equipment. Cleanup, she said, was simply a matter of pumping out the water.

"I think we're pretty lucky we're not encountering problems like some other businesses are encountering and also homes, for that matter," she said.

North Shore residents prep for flood

Residents of Moline's North Shore Drive are quietly preparing for what is forecast to be a near-record flood on the Rock River.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a crest of 16.37 feet at Moline on Sunday. The record is 16.4 feet from 2008. The Rock River was nearly 2.2 feet over the 12-foot flood stage Thursday night.

Joe Senatra, with the help of friends, was building sawhorses to put furniture and belongings on. He's lived along the Rock River for nearly six decades and never had water in his house until the record flood.

"I've lived out here 57 years, and I've learned don't mess with the river," he said.

Across the road, Rich Mahieu was getting ready to put many of his belongings up on plywood supported by sawhorses. His house is elevated so his living space won't be affected.

Although he lives across North Shore Drive from the River, the water is coming up from behind his house.

"This morning when I got up, it was at the fence," he said motioning to his backyard where the water is 15 feet into his yard.

(Reporters Kurt Allemeier, Barb Ickes, Steven Martens, Ed Tibbetts and Brian Wellner contributed to this report.)

Copyright 2015 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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