No tents or fishing allowed, but die-hard campers still flock to Illiniwek Campground for Memorial Day

HAMPTON, Illinois -- Parts of Illiniwek Campground had been submerged for 53 days as the Mississippi River swelled to record levels and rain continued to fall. Floodwaters covering the picnic area along Great River Trail only retreated a week ago and the forecast for the long weekend predicted more rainfall. But campers here said they want to be near the water.

On Friday, May 24 campers began trickling in and setting up for the long weekend. John Queen arrived at the campground just before noon in his truck, pulling his camper behind him. He hoped to get set up before his girlfriend arrived later that day.

He had driven just a few miles from Davenport. "I live in the Gold Coast, the flooding is about three blocks from me," he said.

"I wanted to be closer," he laughed.

Queen and his girlfriend call the camper their summer home. For them, the rain was not a dealbreaker.

"This is Iowa, Illinois. We’re used to it," he said.

"Well I wouldn’t want to be in a home along the river right now," said Dennis Taylor from Denver Colorado. Decades ago, he used to live on Campbell's Island for 12 years.

"I love the river," he said.

"Every once in a while it gets a little out of hand," he admitted, and that's when he prefers to live in camper, he said.

"We’re mobile. We can move."

The Taylors, Dennis and his wife Diane, said everything the tornado northwest of Riverside needed was right there.

"We got heat, we got electricity, we got air conditioning, heaters, TV. It's self-entertaining when it’s raining," he said.

Travel buddies and fur-babies Mimi and Cuddles provide companionship when the couple is not visiting with family and friends in town.

"It’s not really that bad," Taylor said.

Queen from Davenport agreed. "Like I told my girlfriend, it would be raining at home."

Queen said he just wished it was a bit drier so his tent-camping friends could come out as well.

Illiniwek Park is not allowing tents to be pitched nor any fishing along the river until further notice.

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