The Mississippi River crested at the Quad Cities on Sunday night a little over five feet above flood stage and it’s very slow in falling.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Mack Parker says whether the river is flooding or not, people should always wear a life jacket, tell someone where they’re going and when they’ll return, never boat alone, and stay far away from locks, dams, wing dams and jetties. “If you’re not using them, give them plenty of space. I do when I’m out patrolling,” Parker says. “Even if you’re up on top of the rollers, 200 or 300 yards and your engine quits, you’re in a bad situation. Give yourself plenty of time. Give yourself plenty of room. We have great search and rescue assets but the best asset is to prevent it from happening.”
Parker is in charge of operations and training for the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Detachment on Arsenal Island, located between Davenport, Iowa and Rock Island, Illinois. While several lives were lost in the recent flooding along the Missouri River, Parker says they’ve had no deaths and no serious injuries on the Mississippi.
“We’ve had no major marine incidents because of this,” he says. “When it comes to flooding, preparation is probably 100% of it. If you can get preparation before time, get the word out that it’s coming, most people will do the right thing.” Parker has 12 years of experience responding to floods,
including several hurricanes. After a couple of years in the Quad Cities, he says it’s “refreshing” to see how well everyone supports each other.
“Our local community is one of the better communities when it comes to big government assets, state government, local government, all working together as far as communications, they do a tremendous job here,” Parker says. “We work all the way from Clinton Fire Department and Clinton Police all the way down to Buffalo, Muscatine and everybody in between.”
For example, each year during the “Floatzilla” event, Parker coordinates more than 30 boats to promote safety. Local agencies also train together on the Mississippi River to be ready for search and rescue emergencies. The Mississippi crested at Lock and Dam 15 around 6 p.m. on Sunday at 20.6 feet. That’s two feet shy of the record set at the Quad Cities in 1993. Flood stage there is 15 feet.
(By Michelle O’Neill, WVIK, Rock Island/Photos by Fred Carman)