Images from the flood in downtown Davenport

Emilene Leone is a photographer who lives in the Quad Cities. -promoted by Laura Belin

Like many regions in Iowa, Davenport has experienced intense flooding this spring. We are no strangers to floods here, and much of our riverfront has been planned with the idea that floods will be a regular occurrence.

However, the flooding has been particularly intense this year, and as the Mississippi River has continued to rise, a break occurred in the temporary levee on Tuesday, April 30. At about 3:30 in the afternoon, floodwaters began to suddenly rush into the east side of downtown Davenport. With little warning, cars were quickly submerged and residences and businesses were forced to evacuate.

I took my camera downtown on May 1 to capture some images of the flooded streets and attempts by city staff and volunteers to protect the businesses and organizations in the Bucktown neighborhood from encroaching floodwaters.

The break in the temporary levee happened too quickly for many car owners to move their cars.

The affected neighborhood is mainly a business district, with some residential units. It is an area of the downtown that has seen an influx of new retailers and businesses in recent years, and is home to the Bucktown Center for the Arts.

The waters are cold, and citizens have been braving them by foot and boat, in efforts to sandbag and protect buildings from further damage.

This man had a sense of humor about the situation as he emerged from the floodwaters, golf bag in tow, to jokes like “Are you going to play out of the water hazard?”

A beautiful mural reflects off the floodwaters.

Scott Community College and Ruby’s restaurant teamed up to provide free soup to those assisting in the efforts.

The power of the Mississippi River is really something to behold.

Tags: Davenport, Floods
  • Déjà vu

    I suspect that there will be another round of hand wringing as to the desire for a beautiful riverfront and the increasing frequency of damaging and expensive floods. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer short of doing what Davenport’s sister city Rock Island (IL) had to do to their riverfront after the 1965 flood: Build massively ugly but effective steel and earthen dikes. They have worked withstanding multiple devastating floods.

    However, there are big differences when comparing the two when considering Davenport’s extensive shallow shoreline. It would require building a 15 foot dike at least 2 miles long to withstand multiple 500 year floods. It would obliterate the downtown. Similarly what Clinton had to do years ago. Not the most aesthetically pleasing solution. Plus as more and more cities build dikes, it just pushes the water higher and faster downstream exacerbating flooding for the next guy.

    Hydrologically we need multiple sacrificial flood plains scattered strategically along the Mississippi to handle the ten’s of billions gallons of extra water. We all know the land owners who try to squeeze every last acre for cropland in the “bottoms” will not stand for this solution. No easy answers as SE Nebraska knows all to well.

    Last but not Least: Shoutout to Emeline! nice pics!

    • Very good comment, thank you

      The fact that flood walls and levees push flooding problems onto land and people downstream is often overlooked in Iowa. So is the fact that too many Iowa landowners who rowcrop flood plains regard either crop success or public-money bailouts as their divine right.

      I saw a video of one just-flooded flood plain farmer along the Missouri River who was vowing he’d never ever sell his flood plain land so it could be restored to flood-friendly woodlands and prairies, no matter what. So be it. But taxpayers should not have to keep bailing him out over and over and over every time the river occupies its flood plain, which is called a flood plain because it floods. We taxpayers like our money as much as he likes his.

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