With recovery efforts taking front and center, city and Scott County officials are encouraging business owners to keep track of cleanup, equipment loss, building damage and other adverse conditions caused by the historic flood that ripped through downtown Davenport last week.
The directive was given Thursday morning in the Davenport Police Department’s underground training center, where roughly 75 business owners had gathered seeking input for how to build back their businesses. Among those addressing the crowd was Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch, saying local officials are committed to providing support to that end.
“Obviously for all of those who have been affected, not only do our thoughts and prayers go out to all of you, but now is a time to look at recovery and resilience,” he said.
Klipsch also said the city is creating a task force with the sole purpose of addressing flooding. More details about that group are expected to come within the next few days.
Also outlined were several processes for area business owners to go through, including permit applications, guidelines for restaurants to reopen from a health standpoint, and emergency systems that may need to be reactivated in certain properties.
Meanwhile, Davenport continues to await a presidential disaster declaration for Scott County, one of several along the Mississippi River to experience severe flooding with heavy rain from the southwest and snowmelt from upriver. State and federal officials have said the county could be added to the list of other Iowa counties after an earlier declaration was made in April in response to flooding on the western side of the state.
Scott County Emergency Management Director David Donovan said earlier this week that he’s hopeful a declaration will be issued soon, saying some of the planned recovery efforts are contingent upon that action. An application was sent Wednesday to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, commonly referred to as FEMA.
The flood that hit Davenport last week made the record books for the highest river level and longest duration of flooding. A temporary flood barrier, manufactured by company HESCO, breached after it had held the Mississippi River at bay for more than a month.
The exact cause of the breach remains undetermined, and officials say they’ll know more once the flood waters recede. HESCO says the breach was not caused by a structural fault of the barrier, saying the road underneath might have collapsed or the river may have risen above the barrier.
Help for homeowners
At a meeting held for homeowners at the Roosevelt Community Center, about 35 people listened as Rich Oswald, Davenport's Neighborhood Services Director, told the audience to document everything.
"The one thing we want to really reinforce to everyone is make sure you’re documenting everything you’re doing," Oswald said. "So if you’re spending money to remediate and clean, replacing anything right now or you’re having friends come over to help you do things, please make sure you’re documenting all of that.
"If we get a federal disaster declaration that will help toward FEMA," he said.
Certain things such as replacing tiles, drywall, doors or windows will not need a building permit, he said. "But replacing anything structural like a wall, or electrical, or that has something to do with heating and cooling, that will need a permit."
Oswald said the city wants to make sure that any structural damage is replaced correctly and that all electrical issues are properly addressed and corrected.
The city council is in the process of getting the building permit fees waived, he added.
Oswald also warned the audience about the contractors they may hire to help or do the repair work.
"Make sure they are licensed and bonded with the city," he said. "You want to be safe and we want to make sure you're safe. If you're not sure about the contractor call Public Works."
Any work done in the flood plain will need a flood plain permit from FEMA which can be gotten at no cost.
Margie Jump and her son David Jump attended the meeting with Russ and Sarah Lowe. Margie Jump owns Pee-Wee Auto Sales at 2328 W. River Drive, and the Lowes live at 2358 W. River Drive.
They protected theirs and other properties in the area against the floodwaters with the use of 40 Legato, or Lego, concrete blocks that weigh about 5,000 pounds each, and about 27,000 sandbags.
"We've probably spent about $12,000 on the things to protect our property," David Jump said.
Whether they can recoup any of that money is a question, he said.
Austin Henry, MidAmerican's electric operations manager for the Quad-Cities, said that they are waiting on city inspectors to give the approval to turn the power and gas back on in some buildings.
For instance, in the 800 block of West 2nd Street, where there are two apartment buildings, Henry said it will be easy to recharge the buildings as the power lines are all overhead.
Once the city gives its approval after inspections, MidAmerican Energy crews will move to restore power and gas quickly, he said.