Floods and unseasonably cold weather drove a group of 19 travelers, including 15 college students, to seek shelter in a Davenport church until Tuesday.
Linda Buturian, who teaches at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, a guest faculty member on the trip, on Saturday addressed the congregation at St. Mark Lutheran Church, Davenport, where she and the others are staying until Tuesday.
The students were on Day 52 of 100 days on or along the Mississippi River, continuing a journey that began in late August, she said. Their travels have included flash floods and a tornado, “And (Friday) they got snowed on,” she said.
The group paddled into Hampton, Illinois, on Friday.
“We planned on coming into Rock Island, but went to Hampton because of the flooding on the river,” said Ann Koller, from Minneapolis, Wilderness Inquiry trail guide who is one of the expedition leaders.
They camped in Illiniwek Forest Preserve on Friday night. Because of the uncomfortably low temperatures, they began to discuss finding a warm place to stay, especially since some of the students had colds.
The group will stay until Tuesday, then take a shuttle to St. Louis to get around the flooding and the cold, Koller said.
The travelers made a trip for groceries to Hy-Vee, and brought camping gear and food into the church gymnasium Saturday evening. A couple of dogs scurried around the gym and even tried to get in on a spontaneous game of basketball while the campers set up for the next few days.
Peter Carlson joined the expedition from his research position at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment in Uppsala. He said the river semester program was started by Professor Joe Underhill, program director of the River Semester who teaches environmental politics.
"I’m the science guy,” said Carlson. Over the next few days, “We'll do some study, we’ll do some lectures,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Rev. Travis Fisher-King was glad to help out.
“We have people who call us who are going to do mission trips, and ask whether they can stay with us,” he said. “But those are generally well-advanced in planning.
“This was ‘Can you help us tonight?’ And we made it work. It was easy to say yes because we have the space to house them. It’s welcoming Jesus in the faces of people who need help,” he said. “It was a no-brainer.”
(Linda Cook is a member of St. Mark Lutheran Church).