Burlington’s new permanent flood wall faces first major test

BURLINGTON, Iowa -- Burlington's new permanent flood wall is facing its first test with the national weather service forecasting a crest of 23.5 feet sometime on Friday. The wall is designed to handle up to 28.5 feet, but construction on the north and south walls is not complete.

The city has installed a temporary HESCO barrier wall to fill the gaps.

"After what happened in Davenport, you have to understand that there's a risk," said Nick MacGregor, Assistant City Manager to Public Works. "You're holding back a river with sandboxes, so there needs to be caution."

Public works crews walk the walls for signs of trouble and wall of water seeping up from the ground using sandbags and additional HESCO barriers. Water could be seen trickling in Thursday afternoon.

"They’re very sensitive to the fact that this happened in the Davenport area," said Aaron Baltisberger, Senior Vice President of Two Rivers Bank and Trust on the Burlington riverfront. "Therefore it's important that we keep that monitored and make sure that it's doing its job," he said.

Construction of the first section of the permanent concrete wall was completed last summer. Aluminum panels can be installed on top for added protection when the river rises.

City leaders said they were eager to complete the north and south walls. Still, in the design phase, they are expected to be in place by the end of summer 2020.

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