Tenants of nearby buildings still unable to return since partial collapse of “The Davenport”

Published: Jun. 13, 2023 at 11:53 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Demolition of the partially collapsed apartment building in downtown Davenport progressing quickly on Tuesday.

Crews appear to have brought down more than half the building since the process started on Monday morning.

As that happens, several tenants of the surrounding buildings are still left in the dark as to when they can get back into their homes and businesses.

Up until two weeks ago, Samantha Olson lived at the “Central Lofts” on Third Street … across the alley from the deadly collapse.

“There’s no reason for me to complain because I didn’t lose all my stuff,” Olson said. “Bad things are gonna happen and continue to happen.”

She was at home when “The Davenport” collapsed on May 28.

“I always have my kitchen window open. So I heard construction workers yelling ... profanities,” Olson said. “I went to the window and watched the brick fall, and then the building fall on that side.”

Olson said she experienced a lot of the same unliveable conditions in her apartment.

With court intervention, she was able to get out of her lease, officially moving out Monday, after not being allowed in her building since the tragedy.

“My brick in [the] inside of my apartment has a gap so big in it, that I can fit my hand in,” Olson said. “I have chunks of brick that have fallen off from after the collapse, like the demo was shaking my walls, there’s brick all over the ground.”

Down the block, Russell Maidlow owns Allied Barber and Supply, a men’s goods store.

Since the collapse, he’s only been allowed in his business once.

“Father’s Day is better than Christmas for me,” Maidlow said. “It hurts to see that ... not happening. At the same time ... I didn’t just lose everything that I own, I didn’t lose my life.”

Right now he’s set up at Mississippi River Distilling, about half a mile away from his shop.

In the last couple of weeks, he’s partnered with a few other local businesses, like Floyd’s Burgers, The Raccoon Motel, Ragged Records and Trash Can Annie, to host pop-up events to be able to stay open.

“If I was in that position, I would want to be doing the same thing,” Maidlow said. “The fact that [The Raccoon Motel and Ragged Records] did. They’ve been through it. That’s what makes it a community versus we’re just Amazon or Target or whatever.”

For Olson the future is unclear.

Temporarily she’s at the Red Cross shelter. The Salvation Army will help cover her first month’s rent when she finds a new place.

The whole experience has her questioning whether real change can come to the city.

“I don’t really think there is justice people died,” Olson said. “That could have been prevented. So why are they not going to prevent it in all the other buildings around the block [built] the same year ... and not repair them?”

Maidlow has not been told when he can get back into his shop to get it up and running again.

Once the demolition of the building is complete, the city is expected to clean up debris and clear the site. According to city officials, the process will take weeks.