The Mississippi River is out of its banks here in the Quad Cities this week. Last week there was minor flooding along the river as the Mississippi hit 16.8 feet in the Quad Cities - 1.8 feet above flood stage. Then the river began to recede. However, heavy rains in Northern and Northeast Iowa last week drove the river to over 19 feet yesterday. The river levels will slowly recede this week. That is, if preliminary predictions of heavy rains for Northern Iowa don't materialize on Friday.
Davenport is the largest city on the Mississippi that doesn't have some sort of a flood wall or levee system in place. This has caused a major controversy in the past with a number of government officials, including those from FEMA, questioning the rationale of providing Davenport federal funds to help clean up the aftermath of the flood. Federal officials, for a long time, have wanted Davenport to put up some sort of a flood wall. But I have to tell you - walking along the river in the summertime without any visual impediment is pretty cool.
I went down to take pictures when the river hit 18.7 feet on Monday. Here is a picture of the infamous "Skybridge to Nowhere" in downtown Davenport. Actually, the Skybridge was built to allow customers of the Rhythm City Casino to get to the boat during floods like this. However, the Rhythm City shut down on Sunday citing the safety issues of rising flood waters.
(As always, click on the photos for larger images.)
I was able to get up on the Skybridge and take some pictures. Here's a pic looking east toward the building that was the old Dock Restaurant. Lock and Dam 15 is in the background and River Drive is on the left. There's actually a railroad track in between the two fences between River Drive and the parking lot.
Here's a picture of the Levee Inn along the river just east of LeClaire Park. The Levee Inn has been closed for a number of years, but for some reason it's still sitting there as some sort of a monument to previous floods. If you click on the picture and look at the blue marks along the near corner of the building, you'll see the water marks of previous floods. The Great Flood of 1993 went all the way to just under the awning of the roof. And that was just over 22.6 feet.
I tried to get down there to take a closer picture of the Levee Inn, but a security guard from the Rhythm City Casino stopped me. It was stupid, but he wouldn't let me go down. Of course, employees from the Rhythm City Casino were going down and coming up the elevator. I understand they're losing something like $175,000 in income each day they're shut down. And I shouldn't say this as Rhythm City has sponsored a number of events that I've worked at in the past, but I view that as payback. The citizens of Davenport got slickered into building a Skybridge that basically stops at the front of the casino so they can keep the place open for floods like this, and they still shut down.
Here's a shot looking west from the Skybridge toward LeClaire Park. When I work events at LeClaire Park, I always announce, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to beautiful LeClaire Park, right next to and sometimes IN the Mississippi River." Well, it's certainly in the river now.
This is looking east along River Drive. The Government Bridge is in the background. The building in the foreground is part of the building that houses the Front Street Brewery. Notice the sandbags around the building allowing the brewpub and other businesses in the building to stay open.
Now, for those of you who grew up learning that the Mississippi River runs north/south, it actually runs east/west in the Quad Cities. It's the longest stretch of the river where it runs east and west. It screwed up my wife's directions for the first few years she live in Davenport as she was one who learned the river ran north and south. She just couldn't fathom the fact that she was driving south into Illinois from Iowa.
I ended up going down west of the Skybridge to take a few pictures. Here I'm standing in the middle of River Drive, normally a busy street. Notice the water in the background which made the street impassible.
And here's a shot of Modern Woodmen Park, formerly known as John O'Donnell Stadium. The river has come up enough that it's surrounding the park and encroaching into the main stadium parking lot.
Here's a picture of the water lapping up at the outfield berm the City of Davenport put in a few years ago to keep water out of the park as part of the major renovation of the stadium. As far as I know, the stadium field is high and dry. The Centennial Bridge over to Rock Island is in the background.
I used to have a picture of the ballpark completely under water from the Flood of 93. I'll have to see if I still have that somewhere and load it into the blog.
And here's a shot of the Bix Beiderbecke memorial by the bandshell at LeClaire Park. It's going to take one helluva flood to submerge Bix's head.
I have a good friend who lives along the river who is in Puerto Rico right now. He has been planning this trip for quite sometime. Last Friday, just before he left, he got word that the river was going to climb to 19.6 feet. He already had an inch of water in his garage situated under his house - "Just enough water to piss me off," he said.
When he found out that the river was going to rise about another three feet, he was resigned to the fact that he was going to lose his riding lawn mower, his beer fridge and a few other things. See, the water has been up long enough that he hasn't been able to drive back to his house from the road for a few days. He's been using his boat to go back and forth from his house to where they part their vehicles. Getting the mower, fridge and other things out at that point would have been impossible.
He told me, "What are you going to do? I'm basically f***ed. But I chose to live along the river and I have to face the consequences. I'm going to Puerto Rico, I'm going to drink a bunch of rum and I'm not going to worry about it until I get home."
God love him.
I got a text message from him yesterday telling me it was hot in Puerto Rico and asking about river levels back home. I texted him back, "River went over 19 feet last night. We had a hard freeze (29 degrees at 6 a.m. yesterday morning)." I figured the good news that he missed the hard freeze in late April would diminish the bad news about the river level.
Hopefully, I won't have any more flood updates in the coming days. We'll have to watch the developing weather coming up this Friday. All I know is that I wish we could just get a soaking one inch rainfall, once a week, four times a month, rather than getting four inches all at once. Especially this time of year.