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In ominous echo of 1993, historic flooding drowns riverfront town and is blamed for at least 4 fatalities in the region

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
May 05, 2019, 3:44:12 PM EDT


In July 1993, Bill Clinton traveled to Davenport, Iowa, to survey damage from the "Great Flood of 1993." More than 25 years later, history has repeated itself, as the city once again is devastated by floodwaters that are rivaling those from the '93 deluge. In at least one spot, the Mississippi River exceeded the record levels set a quarter-century ago.

An official crest of 22.70 feet was recorded on the Mississippi River at Rock Island on Thursday evening, breaking the previous record of 22.63 feet set on July 9, 1993, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) at the Quad Cities Office in Iowa and Illinois.

The river is receding but will remain in major flood stage through this week. AccuWeather meteorologists will closely monitor the potential for rain at midweek to cause the river to slightly rise. At the very least, the rain can delay when the river will drop below flood stage.

Davenport flood 5-2-2019

Connie Cotton of Bettendorf, hands off items from a business along the river front in downtown Davenport on Thursday, May 2, 2019, in Davenport. A flood wall broke on Tuesday sending water to near record levels with little to no warning. (Brian Powers/The Register)


Davenport is one of the Quad Cities, located in Scott County. Part of its downtown remains underwater after the river tore through a section of the temporary barrier earlier in the week. The city currently has no permanent levee or floodwall in place, according to The Associated Press.

On Tuesday, city workers reinforced water barriers between the Mississippi River and West River Street in Davenport in anticipation of the record flood levels, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region Seven shared.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has also addressed the flooding. She said on Tuesday that local officials were on the ground dealing with the severe flooding in Davenport and working to make necessary resources available.

Anticipating that the flooding would worsen as the week went on, she urged residents to “remain vigilant, follow directions from local officials and law enforcement, and be prepared to evacuate if necessary.”

Davenport flood prep 4-30-2019

City workers reinforcing water barriers between Mississippi River and West River Street in Davenport, Iowa, in anticipation of record flood levels on Tuesday, April 30. (Twitter/ FEMA District 7)


Frank Klipsch, Davenport's mayor, appeared on the AccuWeather TV network last week and was interviewed by Broadcast Meteorologists Brittany Boyer and Geoff Cornish about the devastating flooding.

Klipsch said that about a two-block by three-block area in the southeast part of the downtown section of the city was inundated at that point, while the rest the community has only experienced some water in the streets. He emphasized that the people of Davenport are resilient and experienced at dealing with severe flooding.

"We’re good at fighting floods," he said, adding that the city uses HESCO barriers and temporary barriers for flood protection.

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"One of those areas -- after being up for 48 days -- failed in one little area, and it’s caused some problems," Klipsch said.

While the weather will be a factor in recovery efforts, Klipsch said that all the people involved and the local resources will also play a large role. The community is already preparing for the recovery.

“We’re good at this, we’re used to it, we embrace the river,” Klipsch told AccuWeather. “We want to have a resilient riverfront, we don’t just want to push our problems down the river.”


The historic flooding continued into Thursday elsewhere along the swollen Mississippi, impacting the wastewater plant and causing the plant to reach its capacity, the Scott County Emergency Management Agency shared in a press release on Thursday.

Scott County officials saw a surcharge in the main lines. With the approval of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the pumps deployed near the sewage systems along the Mississippi River are pumping sewage into the rivers.

Without this, serious backups would take place throughout the Iowa cities along the river, the press release reads. Officials are trying to find other relief mechanisms and will employ them as soon as possible.

County officials urge residents to continue to follow safety precautions as the river remains high this week.

Davenport flood 5-3-2019

Mayor Frank Klipsch shows ⁦Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds⁩ and ⁦Iowa Representative Dave Loebsack⁩ the flood damage on Friday. (Twitter/ Gov. Kim Reynolds)


On Friday morning, Reynolds traveled to Davenport to survey the flood damage. Klipsch led her and other government officials around the affected areas.

"Sitting down with local officials in Davenport this morning and touring flood damage," Reynolds writes in a tweet. "We are committed to a recovery plan that works for both the short and long term."

Davenport is far from the only riverside community experiencing catastrophic flooding as the rivers continue to swell, flooding cities in Midwestern states including Missouri, Michigan and Indiana.

Mississippi River Flood 5-2-2019

Aerial images shot by the FOX2 news copter showed dramatic scenes of flooding north of St. Louis after two levees were breached by the swollen Mississippi River on Monday. (Facebook / FOX2)


Thousands of acres of farmland were already swamped, hundreds of roads shut down and numerous bridges forced to close.

The flooding turned deadly in other places, claiming four lives this this week.

On Wednesday, the body of 59-year-old Robbie Turner of Ava, Missouri, was discovered by authorities. Douglas County Sheriff Chris Degase said Turner was camping in the Vera Cruz Conservation Area near the banks of Bryant Creek when storms ripped through the area, The Springfield News-Leader reports.

Davenport IA flooding May 4

Flooding continued in Davenport, Iowa, on Saturday, May 4, 2019. When this photo was taken, the Mississippi River had receded about one foot below the new record set a couple of days ago. (Photo/Ashley Sosnowski)


The body of 23-year-old Alex Ekern was discovered by authorities in southwestern Missouri on Thursday, and the body of 35-year-old Scott M. Puckett of Forsyth, Missouri, was found in Bull Creek by troopers on Friday afternoon. Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. John Lueckenhoff said that Ekern and Puckett were among three men kayaking in Bull Creek when they were swept over a low-water bridge, according to US News and World Report. The third man was able to escape the floodwaters, climb to safety and see help.

On Thursday, a 2-year-old boy was killed when his mother's car was swept away by floodwaters in northern Indiana. State police told local news station WTHR that 22-year-old Anthonitte Carter of Indianapolis was driving when she passed a "high water" sign and drove into floodwaters.

The vehicle became completely submerged in the floodwaters, police said. Carter was able to get out of her Chevrolet Impala and attempted to rescue her son, 2-year-old Eric Long, but was unable to free him.

Carter reportedly told police she did not see the high water sign before she drove into the water, WTHR reports. The investigation is ongoing.

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