Shonna Tietjens

Inside Sabula’s Homeport, business continues as usual. Shonna Tietjens serves regulars in the new, upstairs bar. The owners moved the bar, pool table and all, upstairs so the business could remain in operation until floodwaters recede.

Record floodwaters overcame the Davenport floodwall earlier this month, as the Mississippi rose to its second top-five historic crest in Bellevue within a month.

The river crested at 20.87 feet in Bellevue April 29, the fourth-highest level ever recorded. On April 6, it had crested at 20.36 feet, now number-five in the record books.

The 2011 flood had been the fourth-highest at Bellevue’s Lock and Dam 12.

Although not as bad as April and May, flooding is expected to continue until June.

In Jackson County

Floodwaters covered most of the Riverview campground on the south end of Bellevue under about 2 feet of water, said owner Dan Blitgen. He said he hopes the campground is open by Memorial Day, after its second flood clean-up this year.

Those watching the Sabula river gauge by the boat ramp saw the water rise above 21 feet.

Downriver from Sabula at Fulton, Illinois, the preliminary crest of 21.77 feet was the highest seen since 1993, when the river crested about a half-foot higher. That makes it the fourth-highest Mississippi flood at that location. About three weeks previous, it had crested just shy of 21 feet.

Quad Cities hardest hit

Rock Island, Illinois, saw its highest-ever Mississippi level, 22.7 feet.

In Davenport, where city leaders have refused to build a floodwall in favor of unimpeded river access and views, floodwaters burst through a temporary HESCO barrier designed to hold back floodwaters but unable to withstand the unprecedented length of this flood—46 days, as of Wednesday. It’s still unclear exactly what caused the barriers to fail, Davenport officials said.

Blocks of downtown Davenport were inundated with water when the barriers failed April 30. Those downtown fled the quickly rising waters, leaving vehicles abandoned and apartment dwellers temporarily stranded. More than 30 people were evacuated.

The flood is expected to be the most devastating in the city’s history. The ripple effects of Davenport flooding are felt throughout the region. When last week’s Sentinel-Press and Herald-Leader newspapers were delivered, floodwaters lapped at the printer’s parking lot.

Big water, big picture

The Mississippi and its flooding changed dramatically with the building of the lock and dam system in the 1930s and the creation of the 9-foot channel for shipping.

Flooding this year will disrupt shipping, officials said. The river isn’t expected to be open for barges for weeks, impacting farmers and others by stopping river shipment of grain, chemicals and more.

High snowpack in Iowa and further north, as well as heavy spring precipitation on already-saturated soils, led to this spring’s massive floods, experts said. 2018 was the wettest year on record in Jackson County, and the first two months of 2019 delivered a winter whopper. According to Bettendorf mayor Bob Gallagher, the last 12 months are now the wettest 12 months on record.