In a display of sympathy and support, business and city leaders are slashing red tape to make nearly $400,000 in donations quickly available to Quad-City businesses hit by record-breaking spring flooding.
"This has been a year like no other," Quad-Cities Chamber President and CEO Paul Rumler said during Monday's announcement that applications are due by July 3 for those business and building owners needing financial backing to rebuild. The money is expected to be disbursed by the end of July.
"Everybody needed it (assistance) yesterday," said Kyle Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, which is a division of the Chamber. "We know that. We went out of our way to eliminate red tape."
Carter's group represents 416 downtown properties, he said, with $600 million in combined assessed value.
Several dozen business owners earlier this month wrote a letter expressing their disappointment and frustration over perceived slights by the city in recognizing their losses.
But members of the new Downtown Davenport Business Coalition said they met late last week with city and Chamber officials, and all parties declared Monday they have reached an understanding and are prepared to work together.
Dan Bush, a downtown business owner and member of the Coalition, also spoke at Monday's announcement, saying last week's meetings produced much better relations between the city and those who have invested in its downtown.
As one of the authors of the letter, Bush said he and others in his group, along with city and Chamber officials, "quickly discovered they all want the same thing.
"It really takes a unified front," Bush said. "We're super excited for what the future holds."
He said some of the hardest-hit businesses needed support "more than exchanging letters," referring to the Coalition's letter, which followed one written by Corri Spiegel, Davenport's city administrator, that gave many business owners the impression the city intends only to protect municipal property from flooding and not that of private businesses.
Spiegel also spoke Monday, saying, "We need to do better, and I commit to you that we will."
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She emphasized the triple-crest Flood of 2019 was like no other. For example, she said, "On March 14, the river was 11.4 feet ... 14.8 feet the next day."
Discussions and decisions on how Davenport will fight flooding in the future are to begin in earnest after the Fourth of July holiday, Mayor Frank Klipsch said. He said he was close to finalizing a list of members of his task force, which will study options for flood protection throughout Davenport. The group will ask for technical support from members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service, he said.
Two members of the Downtown Davenport Business Coalition will serve on the mayor's task force, which was one of the group's specific requests.
"Davenport is here to protect all its residents; all its businesses," Klipsch assured. "Everybody's important. We need everybody to come together."
The mayor also vowed to keep the public informed of progress made by the task force and said one thing is certain: The city will need partners to come up with the funding for whatever flood-protection policies and practices are identified as most practical.
Alderman Kyle Gripp, at-large, said the 98-day closure of portions of River Drive, including in the downtown, was "long and painful."
Referring to recent concerns by downtown businesses and to the announcement that flood-recovery funds are being made available, Gripp said: "They need assurance the city of Davenport will have their back and, unequivocally, they will.
"Together we will rebuild our downtown and our riverfront."