‘Without each other, we lose.’ Business owners band together to demand a say in flood plan

Local News

Dozens of businesses in Downtown Davenport formed their own coalition this week. 

They’re asking for the city to do more to help them get back on their feet after the flood of 2019. 

The Downtown Davenport Business Coalition outlined four main demands from the city in an open letter. 

  • Those are for the city to be proactive and transparent with communication.
  • A written promise of flood protection by August 1st.
  • A streamlined and efficient rebuilding process. 
  • To include two of their representatives on the city’s new flood task force. 

Leaders of the coalition say they don’t blame the city for flooding, but they’re unhappy with how the city handled it. 

Moving forward, they want a say in future plans.

“The city didn’t start the flood. It’s not their fault that there was a flood,” says Dan Bush, owner of Analog, Armored Garden and Raccoon Motel.

This week, Bush helped start the Downtown Davenport Business Coalition.

“But when these barriers were put up, we were given a false sense of hope that we would be protected and that’s really where the crux of the coalition started,” he says. 

Normally, an existing group called the Downtown Davenport Partnership helps business owners connect with city hall. 

But Roam owner Dylan Steil says the urgency of the situation moved them to act now.

“Eventually if we can get an agenda set and we can get a plan in place then yeah, we might be able to back off a little bit and let the Davenport Partnership do that for us but until then, with how time sensitive and how financially sensitive the situation is, we just need to take control of it ourselves for the moment,” Steil says. 

Kyle Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, says they’ve pitched in as much as possible, from sandbagging to answering logistical questions about rebuilding. 

“We’ve never stopped. All we’ve done is lived, breathed and ate this since the minute it happened,” Carter says. 

He says he understands the outstanding concerns that have pushed this new coalition to form. 

“We’ve done about all we can in the meantime but the conversation I think that’s being asked for now is the macro-level discussion of, ‘Well what will protection look like going forward, how does that interact with the river front and how do we have that confidence that we should continue to invest at the pace that we have?'” Carter says.

Bush and Steil say business owners want those answers straight from city staff. 

“A lot of people have lost a lot of money and there isn’t a whole lot left. People are really scraping to try to get it together to come back. And we just love this downtown business community, it’s been fantastic, and we don’t want the party to stop,” Bush says.

Coalition leaders say their letter wasn’t an attack on city officials but an invitation.     

So far, they’ve gotten positive feedback. 

They now have a meeting set for Friday with the city administrator. 

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