Due to the swift current and debris-filled water, the Iowa DNR is warning all boaters and swimmers to stay out of the Mississippi River along Iowa’s entire eastern border. The river is expected to reach near-record levels at Davenport by week’s end.
Mike Clarke, Davenport’s public works director, says the continued drenchings have pushed the waterway several feet over flood stage already, and it’s still rising. “With all of the moisture, all of the rains and this continuing active weather system, our ground is super-saturated,” Clarke says. “Anything that falls now, very, very little of it is going to infiltrate into the ground. It’s all runoff. It’s going straight to the streams.”
The latest forecast from the National Weather Service is for a crest at Davenport at least 6.5 feet over flood stage by Friday night. That would be a tie for the 5th-highest-ever level. Despite the dire forecast, Clarke says business owners and residents in downtown Davenport, close to the Mississippi, shouldn’t worry too much.
“The fortunate thing is, our plan is so well rehearsed, our equipment is all pre-staged, our folks are very experienced,” Clarke says. “Having to put in full flood protection in 24 hours is not a big drill for us. We just stay calm, stay steady and we’ve got everything in place.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed Lock and Dam 17 near New Boston, Illinois last week and closed Lock and Dam 16 at Muscatine on Monday. Both are closed to commercial and recreational boat traffic. An Iowa DNR official says 95-percent of the boat ramps are underwater along Iowa’s eastern border.