April 24, 2001 |
Dozens of other Mississippi River towns learned their lesson 36 years ago. After the devastating flood of '65, they built flood walls. But with the third "100-year" flood in a decade now approaching its crest here, this city of 98,000 still has no riprap levee, no steel gate system, no grass-covered dike protecting it from the rising river. And everywhere Mayor Phillip C. Yerington went Monday, it seemed, people wanted to know why.
April 23, 2001 |
More rain fell along the Mississippi River as residents piled sandbags higher against the water. Even more rain was predicted, but it was not expected to fall heavily across a wide area, and some rain already was factored into flood crest predictions, a National Weather Service official said. The river crested Saturday in East Dubuque, Ill., at 25.4 feet, more than a foot below the record of 26.8 feet, but it was still rising downriver, where communities kept shoring up their defenses.
April 22, 2001 |
It should be a pretty easy gig, patrolling the riverfront here in a small fireboat on a sunny spring day. But the riverfront has changed dramatically. On Saturday, Davenport firefighter Bob Juarez guided the battered skiff under an emergency walkway--"Whoa, watch that"--over the railroad tracks, between the parking meters and past the statue of jazz great Bix Beiderbecke, all the while keeping his eye out for submerged fire hydrants and other hazards.
April 21, 2001 |
All along the flooded Mississippi River on Friday, tetanus vaccines were becoming worth their minimal weight in gold as swamped treatment plants poured millions of gallons of raw sewage into the river while thousands of volunteers sloshed around in the unhealthful waters. A national shortage of the vaccine had Red Cross officials in this town telling sandbaggers, firefighters and others likely to get wet to check with their family doctors--to see whether they had a few vials hidden away.
April 20, 2001 |
A natural stick-and-rudder man, Jim Goetsch quickly throttled down, worked the pedals and banked the Cessna hard, spiraling down, down, down to 600 feet above the swollen river. He tapped his thick finger against his side window, pointing. "Looky there. My buddy's house has water all around it--and he works for the Army Corps of Engineers. They can't do a thing about this one."
April 19, 2001 |
Just about the time the flooding Mississippi River was cresting, mercifully, at below predicted levels 200 miles to the north, word was spreading here that the Army Corps of Engineers had worked up some new numbers for this area, bad numbers, again. In less than a week, the predictions for this stretch of river--as with many other stretches--have gone from bad to worse to potentially disastrous. First it was 2 feet above the 15-foot flood level, then 3, then 5, and on Wednesday 7 1/2 feet.