Falcon Farms evacuation Monday affects 50 homes in Port Byron

Originally Posted Online: April 22, 2013, 2:35 pm
Last Updated: April 23, 2013, 9:14 am
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By Anthony Watt, awatt@qconline.copm

Residents of a Port Byron mobile home park were evacuated Monday as the Rock River threatened to overwhelm the park's levee. 

Significant rains in recent weeks sent the Rock into a record-setting flood starting Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. The river crested Sunday in Moline at a record 16.53 feet, skating over the former mark of 16.4 feet. At Joslin, the crest Sunday was 19.13 feet.

Flood stage at both locations is 12 feet.

NWS measurements Monday showed the river was beginning a gradual fall. Even so, the Port Byron Fire Department early Monday afternoon began advising residents of about 20 properties at Falcon Farms, a mobile home park at 2507 214th St. N., Port Byron, to evacuate. Firefighters said there were signs the levee protecting the park could give way.

That evacuation was expanded to 50 residences later Monday, said Lt. Andy Rogers of the Port Byron Fire Department. Around 4:30 p.m., the levee was still holding and the American Red Cross of the Quad-Cities was on standby in case anyone needed assistance. 

As of that time, the pumps seemed to be handling the water, Lt. Rogers said. "They're winning right now," he said.

Kyle Turnbull, a regional manager for Falcon Farms, said about 160 of the 215 lots in the park are occupied. He noted that broken water pipes also was forcing a boil order for the park until further notice.

Water completely filled several streets in the southeast corner of the park and was half way up the wheels of several pickup trucks seen driving through the flooded area. Workers also could be seen running several water pumps, one the size of a pickup, and inspecting sandbags on the levee. 

Port Byron firefighters were assisted by colleagues from Hillsdale and Cordova, as well as Rock Island sheriff's deputies and Genesis ambulance crews. Firefighters waded through the water or walked along its edge, speaking with residents. 

"Sir, check with us when you're ready to leave," one firefighter told a man who was standing on his porch. 

"I'll be leaving in about a half hour," the man replied. 

Amanda Dawson, with the help of her family, used pickups to move a number of possessions, including her children's clothes, photos and furniture. They would be staying with family, she said.

LeAnna Ropp, 28, left with just her cell phone and a bottle of water. Ms. Ropp, who is expecting a baby at the end of May, said she and some friends moved items for the baby up high and would take them out if necessary. 

Lt. Rogers and several residents said water began entering the park Saturday, but had begun to fall significantly by Monday morning. The fire department also called to the park Sunday to assess the water, but found no problems, Lt. Rogers said.

As of 7 p.m. Monday, the evacuation remained in place although water in the park had started to drop, according to Port Byron Fire Chief Don Carey. He said firefighters were confident enough of the situation that they had pulled back at that time.

Mr. Turnbull said anyone with questions should contact the main office of Falcon Farms at 309-278-5418.

The flooding could be among the last stages of what has been a significant flood for the Rock River that began last week. By Friday, neighborhoods throughout the Quad-Cities immediately adjacent to the river, and near or in Barstow and Cordova, were taking on significant amounts of water. 

Since Sunday's crest, the river has been falling gradually. As of 5:30 p.m. Monday, the Rock River was at 18.93 feet at Joslin and 16.32 feet at Moline. By 7 a.m. today , the river is expected to be at 18.5 feet at Joslin and 16.1 feet at Moline. 

The Mississippi River also has flooded, although not as bad. Water entering Davenport's riverfront was largely contained at River Drive, failing to inhibit access to riverfront attractions such as Modern Woodman Park.

The Mississippi crested at 19.12 feet Sunday morning but had declined to 18.74 feet as of 6 p.m. Monday. 

The flooding was caused by substantial precipitation in recent weeks, said NWS meteorologist Tom Philip said. No significant precipitation is expected in the near future, he said.

River Levels

Rock River at Joslin
    -- Flood stage: 12 feet
    -- Level (As of 5:30 p.m. Monday): 18.93 feet
    -- Changes in last 24 hours:  -.18 feet
    -- Forecast change next 24 hours:  -.83 feet

    Rock River at Moline
    -- Flood stage: 12 feet
    -- Level (As of 5:30 p.m. Monday): 16.32 feet
    -- Changes in last 24 hours:  - .18 feet
    -- Forecast change next 24 hours: - .52 feet

    Mississippi River Lock & Dam 15 at Rock Island
    -- Flood stage: 15 feet
    -- Level (As of 6 p.m. Monday): 18.74 feet.
    -- Changes in last 24 hours: -.34
    -- Forecast change next 24 hours: -.64

    Help us keep watch: Submit your flood-related photos to flickr@qconline.com. E-mail flood-related news and information to press@qconline.com. Or chat with us about your flood-related stories on our Facebook page.


Local events heading

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1889 -- 125 years ago: Ladies patent leather tip shoes were selling for $3 at the M & K store, and men's spring overcoats were advertised at $7.50.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Fred Feuchter, of Davenport, was elected president of the Tri-City Post Office Clerks club, and Joe Goldsmith, of Rock Island, was named secretary treasurer.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Mass vaccination of more than 1,600 employed of the Rock Island Arsenal has been ordered by Col. Norman Ramsey after a 13-year-old daughter of the Arsenal manager became ill with smallpox.
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1989 -- 25 years ago: "From the horse and buggy days ... to this" said Mercer County Sheriff Marvin Thirtyacre, waving his hand to indicate the sheriff's department facilities at the new $1.5 million Mercer County Jail in Aledo.

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