As Davenport is still recovering from major Mississippi River flooding that reached maximum damage last month, the cost of flood-fighting efforts for the city’s public works department has risen to more than $1 million.
And as the efforts toward recovery continue on the Iowa side of the river, ongoing cleanup is also placing strain on the public works crews in Moline. Portions of the city’s River Drive remained closed on Monday for cleanups and inspections following Mississippi flooding.
“It’s expensive. Really expensive,” said Rodd Schick, Moline’s general manager of municipal services.
As of late last week, Schick said the running total was around $215,000 for this year’s flood-fighting efforts. Major costs have included keeping pumps running and the paychecks for the people who run them night and day.
Schick also said there’s an additional cost to be considered when flood fighting detracts from the department’s ability to do some of the other summertime projects, like putting sealant on cracked roadways.
“For us in Moline, that’s the biggest thing really is the stuff that is being delayed now,” he said. “That puts a crimp on what we had planned to accomplish this year.”
“Because obviously that time is gone, and you don’t get it back,” he added.
Overall, Schick says Moline is “pretty fortunate” by comparison, but says the crews need a break from the bad weather conditions that have left them fighting a flood for nearly two straight months.
“God-willing we have a nice fall and we don’t have a winter, and we can catch up,” he said.
Davenport's seven-digit cost takes into account facility-related costs, money for signs, labor for public works crews, materials such as sandbags and the cost of using equipment. Still unaccounted costs include the equipment destroyed by the flood and money paid to outside help provided by for-hire contractors.
“We’re easily talking triple to quadruple” the cost in a typical year, said Davenport Public Works Director Nicole Gleason.
And because Quad-Cities are still not out of the woods, more costs are likely to tally up as the city looks toward the possibility of building up and maintaining flood walls in the near future if the Mississippi River rises again. The costs are difficult to anticipate at this time, Gleason said, and also put strain across a department where a finite number of employees have several other duties to oversee.
“We still have to televise sewer lines and we still have to fill potholes and we still have to do all of those other things,” Gleason said, pointing to the cost of overtime as one of the big cost drivers for the public works department right now. “We don’t just get to put the city on hold. We’re just still trying to get as much done as we can.”
Over the past few weeks, Davenport has become something of a disaster tourist spot as elected officials, presidential candidates and national press have come through to see what happens when a river destroys a temporary flood barrier. On April 30, the barrier holding back the Mississippi River breached, sending floodwater gushing through the heart of downtown and its people scrambling for safety on higher ground.
Cleanup and recovery have taken have become focal points in Davenport as the Mississippi River has retreated to its banks — for now. But downtown businesses have felt the brunt of the toll, with some saying they are likely going to leave for good because of severe damage and losses.