AuthorTopic: Official Noah's Ark Thread  (Read 14651 times)

Offline RE

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🌊 Flash Flooding Continues in Oklahoma City, OK - 6/6/2019
« Reply #30 on: June 07, 2019, 05:15:26 AM »
Looking a little damp in OK City yesterday.

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🌊 Here's what a Flash Food looks like in Sagebrush Country
« Reply #31 on: June 07, 2019, 03:49:22 PM »
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🌊 Flash Flood Yesterday in Baton Rouge - Dramatic Car Rescue
« Reply #32 on: June 07, 2019, 04:12:36 PM »
The car rescue is just amazing.

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🌊 Touring the flooding around St. Louis
« Reply #33 on: June 08, 2019, 04:07:45 AM »
Not a good week to be sightseeing in downtown St. Louis.

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🌊 Flooding disrupts Midwestern agricultural supply chain
« Reply #34 on: June 08, 2019, 09:59:24 AM »
Lotta Soy Beans gonna rot.

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🌊 ‘Punched in the Face’: U.S. Floods Snarl Trucks, Trains, Barges
« Reply #35 on: June 09, 2019, 12:10:23 AM »


‘Punched in the Face’: U.S. Floods Snarl Trucks, Trains, Barges
By Brian K Sullivan
, Shruti Singh
, and Mario Parker
June 8, 2019, 3:00 AM AKDT

    Hundreds of barges stalled on Mississippi, other waterways
    Transport plans for supplies change daily as rain pours down


Barges sit along the shores of the Mississippi River Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

LISTEN TO ARTICLE
6:06

Hundreds of barges are stalled on the Mississippi River, clogging the main circulatory system for a farm-belt economy battered by a relentless, record-setting string of snow, rainstorms and flooding.

Railways and highways have been closed as well, keeping needed supplies from farmers and others, and limiting the crops sent to market. For Chris Boerm, who manages transportation for Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., one of the nation’s largest agricultural commodities dealers, the weather is an unyielding, ever-changing challenge.

He and his co-workers spend time carefully planning out the quickest way to get supplies to the people that need them, he said. But it’s tough staying ahead of the drenching rain.

“It’s sort of like Mike Tyson’s quote, everybody’s got a plan until you get punched in the face, right?” Boerm said by telephone. “Every day we come in and we’ve got a plan. But then it rains three inches somewhere overnight where it wasn’t expected, and the plan changes.”
relates to ‘Punched in the Face’: U.S. Floods Snarl Trucks, Trains, Barges

Tug boats idle along the shores of the Mississippi River as they wait to push barges north, on June 7.
Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

That means supplies they plan to move on one river may need to be rerouted to a different waterway, or offloaded onto a rail car or a truck, with the hope they won’t be delayed by the weather as well. For instance, when water reaches the wheel bearings on a freight car in a siding, it can’t be hauled long distances without an inspection, yet another potential delay.

At just two locks along the upper Mississippi, almost 300 barges are being held in place as a result of high water and fast currents, according to Waterways Council Inc., which tracks barge movements. And hundreds more are waiting in St. Louis, Cairo, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee, said Deb Calhoun, the council’s senior vice president.

“It’s a big bottleneck,” Calhoun said.

The contiguous U.S. had its wettest January to May on records dating back to 1895, according to the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri had their rainiest May on record, the center’s data shows, while Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Illinois were all in the top 10.

Since last year, heavy snow fell on the Midwest and Great Plains, melting into saturated ground early in the spring. In March, a so-called bomb cyclone drenched Nebraska and Iowa with record rain and snow, sending the Missouri River out of its banks and creating a multi-state disaster area.
Map

While high waters stop barge traffic, they also carry other dangers. Flood waters have closed off Interstate highways on a number of occasions and water itself. That overwhelms farm fields, sewer and septic systems and industrial plants along its banks, which can become quite toxic as it flows away from the river beds.

“We dealt with a wet fall, and then record snowfall in many places,” said Tim Eagleton, senior engineering specialist for FM Global, an industrial insurer. “Of course, all that melts and comes down the Mississippi. Not only that, but we have had 200%-plus rainfall over a large part of that basin for months, and then a record-wet May in a lot of places.’

The bottom line, according to Eagleton: “Very long duration flooding on the Mississippi River that can really start to wear on people.’’ Almost 200 miles of the Mississippi has been shut down, he said.

Farmers are definitely feeling the crunch.

Iowa corn farmer Bob Hemesath, whose farm is about 35 miles west of the Mississippi River in Decorah, had planned to deliver about 20,000 bushels of corn to a Bunge Ltd. facility in McGregor in March and April. Instead, he ended up sending the grain to a local ethanol plant because the facility was closed due to high water levels and still remains shuttered.

He knows neighboring soybean farmers who are waiting to send their crops down the river as well. U.S. farmers still hold a lot of crops in their silos from their 2018 harvest because selling hasn’t made financial sense during the U.S.-China trade war, slow demand and slumping prices. Now, with northbound and southbound river traffic stalled, Hemesath is worried about what the barge backlog is going to look like this fall.

“We are going to be missing almost three months of river traffic, I don’t even know how we will get caught up," he said. “If the river facilities don’t have barges that are caught up on old crop they won’t be able to ship new crop. It’s another stress for farmers.”

Among Boerm’s worries is that with the water levels so high -- and for so long -- there isn’t a lot of visibility yet on what the long-term impact to the waterways may be.

Boerm was an ADM manager in 1993, when more than 17 million acres were flooded across nine states in June through August. He recalls working with the Red Cross in Hardin, Illinois, sandbagging the bloated waterways and helping evacuate homes. The recent flooding is just as formidable a beast, he said.

“In ’93, the flood was really kind of concentrated in Iowa and the Upper Midwest," Boerm said. "This has been much more expansive, getting all the inland rivers," affecting the entire Mississippi, the Arkansas River, the Illinois River and the Ohio River.

It’s impossible to know the full fallout until the waters recede, Boerm added.

That could take some time, according to Jeff Graschel, service coordination hydrologist with the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center in Slidell, Louisiana. “A lot of locations since December to January have been above flood levels, and they probably will be in June to July,’’ he said. “We have another month or two before we can get some of these areas to go below flood.’’

Waterways near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Natchez, Mississippi and Cairo, Illinois, have all set records for the length of the flood by weeks, Graschel said.

The repercussions will ripple through the economy for the rest of the year, said Jon Davis, chief meteorologist with RiskPulse, a weather analytics firm in Chicago. When crops that have been sowed late in the season to start moving to market, barge, truck and train traffic will soon be stretched thin, he said.

“There are a couple of things that make this situation incredibly unique, the first of which is the longevity of the flooding, ’’ according to Davis. “The other factor is how widespread everything is.’’

Corn and soybean planting lags the five-year average, and grain shipments on the Mississippi, Arkansas and Ohio Rivers have already dropped well below last year and the three-year averages, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

— With assistance by Michael Hirtzer, and Kevin Varley

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https://psmag.com/environment/the-fields-are-washing-away-midwest-flooding-is-wreaking-havoc-on-farmers

'The Fields Are Washing Away:' Midwest Flooding Is Wreaking Havoc on Farmers

Historic flooding this year is setting back planting season. Climate change will force farmers to adjust to similarly brutal weather events in the future.

    Emily Moon
    Jun 6, 2019


Kate Glastetter has worked on her family farm all her life. Alongside her father, the 25-year-old farmer grows row crops—wheat, bean, and corn—and runs a cow and calf operation in Scott County, Missouri. Normally, at this time in the season, farmers would be starting to plant soybeans, and corn should already be in the ground. Instead, Glastetter says, their fields are covered in water. "It's like lakefront property," she says. "The fields are washing away."

It's a common story across the Midwest and Great Plains, where the Missouri and Mississippi River basins are still recovering from a catastrophic deluge: Since March, record flooding in the central United States has caused historic crop delays. The Mississippi River received levels of rain and snow at 200 percent above normal this spring, causing corn and some soybean farmers to wait longer to plant their crops than ever recorded in Department of Agriculture data. And as bad as this year is, climate change projections show U.S. farmers will need to adjust to similarly brutal weather events in the future.

Glastetter says her farm has been spared somewhat because it's in the hills, but many of her relatives in the state's plains have had to stop planting. "It just looks like a muddy mess everywhere in the bottoms," she says. "The guys try to prepare a seed bed for planting only for it to rain again and undo all their work."

The threat will only grow worse and more widespread in the coming months, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Spring Outlook report. "This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities," Ed Clark, director of the NOAA's National Water Center, said last month.

The floods have already wrecked homes, contaminated drinking water, and cost billions of dollars in damages. Now experts are warning that the damage to U.S. agriculture could last well beyond the spring.

Research shows the increasingly difficult conditions farmers are experiencing during this and recent years are at the mercy of more than weather: Extreme events like this one are also linked to climate change, which is projected to cut crop yields in half under worst-case climate models.

Back in 2002, researchers estimated that the damage from climate change-induced rainfall alone could total $3 billion every year—costs that would be borne by farmers, and ultimately passed along to disaster relief programs. Many have hailed these recent floods as proof; agriculture aid for this year comes at a price of $16 billion.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated that farmers had planted just 67 percent of the acreage planned for corn. This time last year, they were at 96 percent. "That translates to almost 40 million acres of corn not planted," says Michael Nepveux, an economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, the country's largest agriculture lobbying group. "When you think about where we are in terms of the planting season, that's astronomical."

Soybeans are usually planted later than corn, but they're also behind schedule. For both commodities, government reports and industry projections have grown more dire by the month. "It's the slowest time we've had going back to 1980 [when the agency began collecting the data]," says Anthony Prillaman, head of field crops at the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Prillaman says it's too early for analysts to predict losses, but "the feeling is that prevented plantings are going to be higher this year."

There's another problem exacerbating these delays: Many American farmers purchase crop insurance through the USDA's Risk Management Agency. The USDA sets planting dates for insured crops, many of which have already passed. "You can still technically plant, but you're going to start taking a 1 percent decline per day on your crop insurance," Nepveux says. "It starts to become a point of whether it's worth it to even put a crop in the ground."

Since farmers have less incentive to plant, corn has already reached its highest price in the past several years. "This is going to be the biggest crop event since the drought in 2012," Nepveux says.

USDA experts are not the only ones expecting the worst. A report released this week found that farmer sentiment hit its lowest point in almost three years—a decline that "effectively erased all of the large improvement in farmer sentiment that took place following the November 2016 election," according to Purdue University researchers James Mintert and Michael Langemeier. The survey suggests that farmers are becoming increasingly pessimistic about their futures, citing losses from both President Donald Trump's trade war and this spring's extreme weather.

With the threat of more floods on the way, Glastetter says she's worried the delays in planting will ultimately hurt her own steer sales. When there's less corn planted, the prices for feed (grains like corn, barley, oats, and sorghum) go up. "The amount of acreage not planted in corn like it should be is mind blowing," she says. "The grain elevators are already putting holds on their distributing. These corn prices are really going to negatively impact the cattle market as feed prices are sure to skyrocket."

As many farmers across the country vent their frustration on Twitter—using the hashtag "noplant19"—others are resigned to the ongoing threat. "It's just how farming is," Glastetter says. "We are at the mercy of the weather all the time."

Other farmers have seen the flood as a call to diversify planting to mitigate the inevitable effects of climate change. Elisabeth Wells Pistello, who owns and operates a small, diversified farm in Pulaski, New York (also experiencing some flash flooding), says the rain has kept her out of the fields for three weeks. But unlike farmers with larger operations that focus on one commodity, Pistello can swap out some of the hardest-hit crops for ones that might fare better in their greenhouses. "That was one of the reasons why, when we first started our farm, one of the first investments we made was buying a high-tunnel greenhouse," she says. "We really needed to help buffer ourselves from climate change."

Pistello expects that more farmers will be thinking about new approaches to farming under climate change after the stress of this spring. "This has been a record-breaking season for a lot of people," she says. "It's hard to be prepared for that."
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It's moving on downriver...

The Mighty Mississippi is moving at TWICE it's normal speed!!!  :o

Would make for a great Float Trip.


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🌊 The Great Wall of Louisiana
« Reply #38 on: June 11, 2019, 03:57:44 AM »
The Army Corps of Bozo vs. Mother Nature?  Who do you bet on in that contest?  ::)

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https://www.vox.com/2019/6/11/18659676/flood-midwest-nebraska-iowa-forecast

The Midwest and Southeast can’t catch a break from floods. More are on the way.


Forecasters predicted the massive floods months ago.
By Umair Irfan Jun 11, 2019, 11:50am EDT


Floodwater from the Mississippi River has overtaken much of the town on June 1, 2019, in Foley, Missouri. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Torrential downpours have flooded huge swaths of the Midwest and the Southeast since last week. Rain over the weekend triggered flash floods in several states, including Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Florida. In some states, more than a month’s worth of rain fell in a day.

Beyond flash floods, rivers rising more slowly in places like Iowa have threatened drinking water. In Illinois, flooding this past week has closed roads and bridges. Atlanta broke a single-day rainfall record on Saturday with 4 inches of rain. Nebraska issued a second disaster declaration last week in response to the floods.

These rains have come atop flooding tied to the wet winter in many parts of the country followed by a wet spring. The ongoing flooding has already led to several deaths and, once the water recedes, will exact a huge toll on the economy. One of the biggest concerns is the impact of floods on crops like corn and soy, which are mainly grown in the Midwest. Waters have already damaged some fields, and the soaked soil is preventing new crops from being planted. That’s more bad news for farmers already struggling under the Trump administration’s ongoing trade war.

And more rain is coming. The National Weather Service is projecting continued rain and flooding along the Mississippi River this week, stretching through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

But as with the rash of tornadoes we saw in recent weeks, the factors that fueled the heavy rains were brewing months in advance. More extreme rainfall aligns with what scientists expect as the climate changes. And forecasters warned weeks ago that “unprecedented” flooding was on the way.
Forecasters were expecting heavy flooding for months

In March, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its spring outlook report amid extensive flooding that was already occurring in the Midwest. Early spring rain and melting snow stranded people in South Dakota as water blocked roads. Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, the headquarters of US Strategic Command, saw floodwaters rise to 7 feet deep.

NOAA forecast that two-thirds of the contiguous United States would face elevated flood risks. “This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities,” Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said in March.

Now scientists say this forecast has proved correct. “The continuation of [severe flooding] definitely came true,” said Paula Cognitore at the National Water Center.

She explained that signs of an increased flooding potential this year started to emerge in the winter. “The stage had been set where we had quite a bit of above-normal snowpack in the upper Great Plains,” she said.
Floodwaters from a swollen Mississippi River take over the Gateway Arch grounds on June 7, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Floodwaters from a swollen Mississippi River take over the Gateway Arch grounds on June 7, 2019, in St Louis, Missouri. Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

The cold temperatures this winter, including a polar vortex, froze rivers across many parts of the United States and allowed all that snow and ice to persist into the spring. With rains in March and April, ice on rivers created ice jams, effectively creating dams that allowed water levels to rise and overtop banks and levees. This was the key driver behind the spring floods. Even as floodwaters receded, rivers remained swollen as late-season snow continued to thaw into May.

Forecasters realized that the early-season flooding would exacerbate flooding a few months later, even with typical seasonal rainfall. That’s because much of the soil in the Midwest and Southeast was already saturated with water. Any more water on top of that wouldn’t infiltrate the soil and instead would accumulate at the surface.

And the rain in recent weeks was anything but typical. Severe thunderstorms cropped up across the United States over the past week, with many spawning destructive and deadly tornadoes. NOAA reported last week that this past May was the second-wettest May on record. It also capped the wettest 12-month span on record.

So unusually heavy rain on an already soaked country is driving the extensive flooding we’re seeing now.
Extreme rainfall is a clear climate change signal

No individual weather event can be attributed to climate change. However, the recent severe rainfall comports with what scientists expect to happen due to global warming. As average temperatures rise, air can hold on to more moisture. Roughly every degree Celsius of temperature increase allows a parcel of air to hold on to 7 percent more water. That moisture is then released as an increasing amount of precipitation.

The warming the planet has experienced so far is already driving up the likelihood of extreme rainfall events. And as temperatures continue to rise, the odds of heavy rain will continue to increase. The number of one-in-five-year rainfall events is on the rise. And the amount of rain poured out in a once-every-30-years precipitation event is going up too.

That means the likelihood of heavy rainfall, and the severity of that rainfall, is on the rise. Even if the season average precipitation doesn’t change, parts of the country like California are moving toward a drought-to-deluge cycle, a phenomenon researchers refer to as whiplash.

And there will likely be little relief for those drenched by the recent weather over the next few weeks. “We do see this pattern continuing into the summer,” Cognitore said.
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Re: 🌊 The Great Wall of Louisiana
« Reply #40 on: June 12, 2019, 03:40:34 AM »
The Army Corps of Bozo vs. Mother Nature?  Who do you bet on in that contest?  ::)

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I watched this video. Pretty amazing stuff, too bad it won't last. I always bet on Mother Nature - she can be a mean bitch! :evil4:
Tom Lewis (http://www.dailyimpact.net/2019/06/04/apocalypse-now-this-week/#more-4239) had an interesting blog read a week or so ago. It would be interesting if the Mississippi knocks out the Old River Control Structure. Then even the economy would have to respond to Mother Nature.
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Re: 🌊 The Great Wall of Louisiana
« Reply #41 on: June 12, 2019, 03:53:51 AM »
I watched this video. Pretty amazing stuff, too bad it won't last. I always bet on Mother Nature - she can be a mean bitch! :evil4:
Tom Lewis (http://www.dailyimpact.net/2019/06/04/apocalypse-now-this-week/#more-4239) had an interesting blog read a week or so ago. It would be interesting if the Mississippi knocks out the Old River Control Structure. Then even the economy would have to respond to Mother Nature.
AJ

I don't think the river flooding by itself can knockout the control structure.  It would need to come in combination with a fairly significant storm surge.

It is quite an engineering marvel though, regardless.

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🌊 **Must See** Worst Mississippi River Flood Imminent June 2019
« Reply #43 on: June 16, 2019, 03:56:17 PM »
Currently out of the MSM newz cycle, but still ongoing and getting worse.

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🌊 A CFS Approach to City Planning beside the Mighty Mississippi
« Reply #44 on: June 17, 2019, 02:09:23 AM »
I still think Houseboats are the best solution for the individual, but this one is pretty good on a city planning level.


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https://www.nola.com/environment/2019/06/for-some-mississippi-river-cities-there-are-only-2-choices-adapt-or-move-the-rivers-revenge.html

For some Mississippi River cities, there are only 2 choices — adapt or move: The River’s Revenge
Updated Jun 15, 2019; Posted Jun 15, 2019


The Mississippi River encircles Davenport, Iowa's minor league baseball stadium during flooding in early July 2014. Designed to partially flood, the stadium remained open for a three-game Independence Day series. (Photo by Tristan Baurick, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Tristan Baurick, NOLA.com | The

The Mississippi River encircles Davenport, Iowa's minor league baseball stadium during flooding in early July 2014. Designed to partially flood, the stadium remained open for a three-game Independence Day series. (Photo by Tristan Baurick, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
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By Tristan Baurick, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

DAVENPORT, Iowa — In early July 2014, the Mississippi flooded downtown Davenport, turning its minor league baseball stadium into an island. It happened at a particularly bad time: just before a three-game Independence Day weekend series against upriver rivals from Wisconsin.

But the game played on.

With floodwaters lapping at its base, the stadium welcomed more than 6,000 fans to watch the hometown River Bandits take on the Timber Rattlers of Appleton, Wisc. The post-game fireworks display was bigger than ever, and the stadium’s Ferris wheel offered birds-eye views of the flooding.

“This (stadium) — it literally becomes the middle of the Mississippi River,” Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch said.

That’s by design. Davenport, population 103,000, is the only major city along the Upper Mississippi without a floodwall. Part of its downtown functions as an urban floodplain.

During flooding, elevated sidewalks link up with removable steel bridges and ramps to the stadium. Parking is tight when much of it is under water, so the River Bandits enlist a shuttle to bring fans from lots on higher ground.

Since the 1980s, Davenport has put limits on development along the river. As buildings have adapted to flooding, like the stadium, or been torn down or relocated, the city’s riverfront has gone green. A nine-mile stretch is dominated by nearly 560 acres of parks and trails, much of which can hold or absorb flood water.
The riverfront of Davenport, Iowa, is designed to flood during the Mississippi River's periods of high water. (Photo courtesy of City of Davenport)

City of Davenport

The riverfront of Davenport, Iowa, is designed to flood during the Mississippi River's periods of high water. (Photo courtesy of City of Davenport)

On the city’s south edge is the 513-acre Nahant Marsh, one of the Mississippi’s largest urban wetlands. The site of a gun club for nearly 30 years, the marsh underwent an extensive clean up that removed 243 tons of lead shot and heaps of trash. Now the marsh hosts a variety of birds and other wildlife and an education center that draws thousands of visitors each year.

Most importantly for Davenport, the marsh acts as a giant sponge. Each of Nahant’s acres can soak up 1.5 million gallons of floodwater. The marsh can hold millions more as standing water.

“The river used to have wet places like this all along it,” said Brian Ritter, the marsh’s executive director. “We’ve broken our connectivity with them or filled them in, and it’s probably why flooding is getting worse. But we have the remarkable ability here to capture billions and billions of gallons of floodwater every time the Mississippi floods.”

Davenport plans to add more floodable plazas, a water-absorbing sculpture park, and sandy stretches of riverbank.
The size and number of large floods have increased along with human efforts to control the Mississippi River. A scenario that excludes engineering and that ties flooding to climate changes shows a much lower flood rate. (Sean McKeown-Young, Advance Local Graphics. Source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The size and number of large floods have increased along with human efforts to control the Mississippi River. A scenario that excludes engineering and that ties flooding to climate changes shows a much lower flood rate. (Sean McKeown-Young, Advance Local Graphics. Source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Clear views of the river and easy access to it have spurred downtown development, outdoor recreation and tourism, Davenport leaders say.

“Most people say they come here because of the river,” said Mary Ellen Chamberlin, a Davenport resident who led a fight in the late 1960s against a planned flood wall. “They can see it and they can literally put their feet in the Big Muddy.”

Davenport’s open arms approach to the river is a point of local pride. But the city does suffer damage during large floods. After flooding in 2001, the city needed more than $3 million to pay for cleanup. FEMA, which covered 90 percent of the tab, was critical of Davenport for refusing to build a floodwall. Davenport’s share of the costs — about $310,000 — wasn’t much more than the nearly $300,000 the city estimated it would have to spend each year maintaining a levee.

Also worth pointing out, Davenport’s leaders say, is that cities with flood protection also suffered significant damage during the same flood.

“It’s gotten to the point where (the river) comes up and we just rinse off,” Chamberlin said.
Davenport's unwalled riverfront is dominated by parks that absorb Mississippi River floodwater. (Photo courtesy of Visit Quad Cities)

Visit Quad Cities

Davenport's unwalled riverfront is dominated by parks that absorb Mississippi River floodwater. (Photo courtesy of Visit Quad Cities)

Following Davenport’s lead isn’t easy. Many river cities, including Hannibal, Mo., have grown up alongside floodwalls and levees. Removing such protections would require an expensive and disruptive revamp of buildings, streets and other infrastructure.

Ways of living with flooding are gaining traction along the river. Illinois has drawn praise for what flood risk experts call “managed retreat” from the river. The state has aggressive buyout and relocation programs, and has enacted some of the nation’s toughest floodplain development restrictions.

“We got serious after the 1993 flood,” said Paul Osman, floodplains program manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “Now we’re number one in the nation in the fewest (flood insurance) claims on new buildings. We’re simply not building in floodplains.”

The state has bought out about 6,000 at-risk buildings since 1993 and moved entire towns out of harm’s way.

The town of Valmeyer, Ill., is “the poster child” for large-scale relocations, said Nicholas Pinter, a geologist with the University of California, Davis.
Floodable parks and plazas dominate the riverfront of Davenport, Iowa. City leaders embrace flooding rather than fight it with walls and levees. (Photo courtesy of Visit Quad Cities)

Visit Quad Cities

Floodable parks and plazas dominate the riverfront of Davenport, Iowa. City leaders embrace flooding rather than fight it with walls and levees. (Photo courtesy of Visit Quad Cities)

“It was catastrophically flooded in 1993,” he said. “Now it’s been almost entirely rebuilt and its population moved on to the bluff tops, about 300 feet higher in elevation.”

Valmeyer had about 1,000 people before the move. “Today, it’s almost doubled in size and is growing like crazy,” Osman said.

Illinois is spending $5 million buying out 150 structures in what Osman calls “one of the stupidest locations to build a community” — the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, where the land is low, sandy and ever-flooding.

Grafton, another small Illinois community, has eschewed levees in favor of buyouts and a slow, piecemeal retreat to higher ground. Much of old Grafton now looks like Davenport’s riverfront, with green spaces and trails. New Grafton, relocated to a nearby bluff, is high and dry.

“They’ve had six floods since the buyouts,” Osman said. “But they’ve all been non-events in Grafton.”

The choices appear stark: adapt or move. The alternative is to continue building higher levees and stronger flood walls. Klipsch, Davenport’s mayor, says that course is reckless for his community and those downriver. A better option is letting the river run its course.

“We didn’t put up a flood wall and push our problems down to places like Louisiana,” he said. “The river does come outside of its banks. We know that. We embrace that.”

This series was made possible in part by a fellowship from the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources.
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