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Davenport begins prep work for major spring flooding

News, Weather

March 15th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – The National Weather Service predicts a wet spring in eastern Iowa and a rising Mississippi River, so the city of Davenport is preparing for the possibility of major flooding. In the Quad Cities, flood walls and levees hold the river back from Bettendorf, Rock Island and East Moline, but not Davenport. The city’s choice to live with the river means flooding and that requires preparation. Nicole Gleason is Davenport’s public works director. “Really, if you look at it on a large scale, we’re really flooding a minimal amount of time in the big picture,” Gleason says, “so, kind of balancing that long-term interaction with the short-term needs of flooding.”

The weather service says there’s a 50-percent chance of major flooding, which for Davenport is 18 feet. Gleason says that would require closing River Drive, diverting many commuters driving between Muscatine and Bettendorf. Gleason says the flooding is part of the balancing act for a town that chooses to live with the river, rather than walling it off.  “Any time you’re setting up a temporary measure as opposed to a permanent measure, the goal is to maintain the river views,” she says, “to make sure that when we’re not flooding — which is the majority of the time — people can see the river, interact with the river, as opposed to putting up a permanent flood structure.”

City staff are practicing the deployment of flood barriers and pump stations and the city is urging residents to visit the city’s website to sign up for alerts and get more information. Gleason says as waters rise, the city uses a combination of HESCO flood barriers and pump stations to limit damage.

(by Zachary Oren Smith, Iowa Public Radio)