With more than 30 flooded businesses closed in Davenport, dozens of out-of-work employees are scrambling to make ends meet.
Several displaced employees — many of whom are service and hospitality workers — are picking up shifts elsewhere and applying for unemployment benefits. Some are staying on their current payroll by trading their typical jobs for cleaning up flood damage and stacking sandbags.
"This is my full-time job, so it's been hard," said Becca Nicke, owner of Abernathy's in downtown Davenport. "There's tons of work to be done, but no money to be made. Bills come in one at a time. I'm trying to move things around."
Many business owners, despite potentially losing months' worth of income, are coming up with creative ways to keep paying their employees.
Nicke, for example, is traveling to trade shows and other events to sell merchandise. She's also looking for a temporary location to reopen her vintage clothing store, which she expects to be closed for four or five months.
Steve Grubbs, owner of Paradigm, said his part-time employees are operating the business' esports and virtual reality gaming equipment at other locations, including at the TBK Bank Sports Complex in Bettendorf. His full-time employees are continuing to be paid as usual, he said.
"We're just biting the bullet and writing those checks," Grubbs said.
Unlike several downtown and west end business owners, Grubbs hopes his business will reopen in the coming month. The gaming center is now cleared out and dry, but he's preparing for more rain this week.
La Flama Owner Martin Garcia, who's operating his restaurant out of a food truck while the brick-and-mortar business is closed, said his biggest concern is losing his experienced employees, many of whom have worked with him for more than five years. He's creating a rotating schedule so employees can continue working part-time out of the truck.
"I have close to 10 employees. And those employees have 10 families," he said.
While dozens of employees face the possibility of not returning to their jobs until this fall, some Quad-City companies unaffected by flooding have opened their doors to temporary workers.
Dylan Steil, with Roam, said the downtown restaurant is working to help its 25 employees continue to work elsewhere.
"Our first concern is the people. We can replace things, but we can't replace people," Steil said. "A lot of our employees have dedicated their professional lives to us. So we're in contact with various businesses throughout the community to get them replacement work. We're working with three or four locations to get the front-of-house and coffee staff relocated. That's priority No. 1, then it's to rebuild."
Businesses such as Five Cities Brewing, Crust Stone Oven Pizza and Crawford Brew Works, have been offering shifts to employees, including from Front Street Brewery and Great River Brewery.
"The Quad-Cities is such a tight-knit community, and the craft beer scene is no exception to that," said Marshall Dismer, general manager of Crawford Brew Works in Bettendorf. "We wanted to help these people. They're our friends and they helped us out as a new brewery. So we're offering up any available shifts to the bartenders."
Breweries also have been offering to put flooded bars' beer on tap or donate sales to affected downtown businesses. Dismer said Crawford plans to host a "tap takeover" event next week with 100% of proceeds donated to Front Street and Great River.
Jeremy Ritchie, workforce manager at IowaWORKS, is suggesting displaced employees visit the Davenport office, at 902 W. Kimberly Road, to learn about available resources.
IowaWORKS assists individuals in filing for unemployment benefits and finding temporary employment and training opportunities.
"Any time a business is unable to operate and employees aren't able to work, there's going to be an impact. How long those businesses remain closed and the length of time people aren't able to work will determine what the actual economic impact is," Ritchie said. "In a time like this, we're here to help people. We want people to come in, so we can offer help and do what we can for folks in the community."
For more information on resources for displaced employees, visit iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov.