"Our livelihoods are now in jeopardy': Downtown businesses band together, demand action from city following floods
Downtown Davenport businesses impacted by the floods of ’19 say they are under pressure and the damage goes beyond just their properties. The devastation from the temporary barrier breach in April could result in businesses being forced to close.
“It has been one of the rougher years of my life,” Roam owner Dylan Steil said. “We are up in the air right now. We don’t know what the future holds.”
Steil, whose establishment opened just months before the barrier broke, told TV6 that he is unsure if downtown Davenport will be his future home. While cleanup is underway at Roam, he says he is lacking support from the city of Davenport.
"We are not here to grip or ask for pitty,” Steil said. “We are not asking for reparations. We are looking for solutions moving forward."
Steil is one of nearly three dozen people to form the Downtown Davenport Business Coalition. The group wants to make sure if they continue to invest in downtown that the city is invested in them.
"We are looking for solutions at this point,” coalition organizer and downtown business owner Dan Bush said. “There are a lot of business owners who were directly impacted by the flood who are reconsidering building so we need a flood plan in place this summer to understand what is protection and how."
The frustration for Bush and Steil stems from a letter written by Davenport City Administrator Corri Spiegal. In the letter, Spiegal said the temporary flood wall that failed was not designed specifically to protect businesses. Since then, affected businesses say the city has stonewalled them.
"We felt like we needed to get together to create a unified voice for ourselves,” Bush said.
TV6 anchor and reporter Chris Carter asked Spiegal for an on-camera interview, but she declined, instead providing Carter a statement.
"Causing frustration to business owners already impacted by a record-setting and devastating flood was not my, or the City's, intent by sharing the information included in the letter,” Speigal wrote in part in the letter. When asked if she stood by the letter Speigal said the letter is factually accurate.
“That said, hindsight is 20/20 and I could've approached the same content with a different word choice and/or tone,” she wrote.
In its three page letter to the city, the Coalition asks the city for four things including the city providing “written assurance that flood protection is intended to protect both public and private assests.”
"We are dedicated to bringing back downtown and something like this was a setup and we felt like it was an opportunity to have our voice heard,” Bush said.
The Coalition is also asking the city to include two representatives from the coalition on this newly created task force.
The Coalition said it has heard back from the city and are hoping to meet with Spiegal on Friday.