Davenport leaders emphasize protecting businesses in future flood-protection plans

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- In response to the damaging flood breach that took place in downtown Davenport, area leaders are saying the flood plans need to be analyzed.

"We must assess ways to improve our region's plans to minimize this from happening again," said Quad Cities Chamber President & CEO Paul Rumler.

Rumler said the chamber planned to "advocate for new riverfront development strategies that incorporate flood mitigation plans," therefore protecting the amenities along the riverfront.

This statement comes one day after City Administrator Corri Spiegel released an open letter about the April 30th barrier breach.  In her three-page letter, she addressed questions in sections titled "What We Know," "What We Do Not Know," and "The Road Ahead."

In the "What We Know" section, Spiegel said that "Davenport's flood plan is not and never was intended specifically to protect businesses."   She said the plan pertains to the entire riverfront and is aimed at protecting public assets and infrastructure.

Contrarily, Kyle Carter, who is the executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, said the city's "flood protection plan should include strategies to protect businesses, residents and all community assets."

"To ask people to invest in that and then say blatantly in a very throw-away way it's not our intention to protect business, why would we wanna come down here and continue to do this?" said downtown business owner, Devon Wiese.

Wiese wrote a letter back to Spiegel saying that investing in downtown is a two-way street.

"If you're going to ask us to invest in downtown, this community, then you have to be there too," he said.

Carter said more than $500 million had been spent on downtown amenities throughout the last two decades.   With the 2019 flooding, Carter said there had been an estimated $30 million in revenue and wages lost.

"Flooding is hurting our downtown economy, and we stand behind business and property owners to ensure the best flood protection system is in place to protect investments going forward."

In Spiegel's letter, she said now is the time to "reevaluate some serious questions," including identifying what should be protected, which areas should be preserved for flooding, what flood height should the city be prepared to combat, and how will any future improvements be funded.

Click here to read Spiegel's letter. 

This is the full statement from the QC Chamber and Downtown Davenport Partnership: 

"Quad Cities Chamber and Downtown Davenport Partnership: protecting businesses and investments downtown from flooding necessary

“Over the past months Quad Citizens have worked together to respond to record flooding that has impacted families, neighborhoods, businesses, and public infrastructure. We must assess ways to improve our region’s plans to minimize this from happening again. Going forward the Quad Cities Chamber will advocate for new riverfront development strategies that incorporate flood mitigation plans to protect and encourage continued investment up and down the Mississippi River. Doing so will preserve the economic benefit for all Quad Citizens and enable us to reach our region’s Q2030 vision,” said Paul Rumler, President & CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber.

“The City of Davenport’s flood protection plan should include strategies to protect businesses, residents and all community assets,” said Kyle Carter, Executive Director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, a division of the Quad Cities Chamber. “Over $500 million has been invested downtown in the past 20 years, and we need to be able to protect the investments made by businesses, property owners, and the local, state and federal government.”

“Hundreds of businesses in downtown and neighboring commercial districts in Davenport have been affected by flooding this year, losing an estimated $30 million in revenue and wages,” continued Carter. “Flooding is hurting our downtown economy, and we stand behind business and property owners to ensure the best flood protection system is in place to protect investments going forward.”

“We will work with city governments, businesses and other agencies across the region to represent the best interest of businesses as flood protection plans are developed for the future,” concluded Rumler."

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