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Mississippi River mayors continue work on long term flood solutions

Drone photo of Nahant Marsh, Davenport, Iowa during the 2019 flood
Nahant Marsh
Drone photo of Nahant Marsh, Davenport, Iowa during the 2019 flood. The MRCTI says more natural areas like Nahant Marsh are needed to store river water during floods.

As this year's flood ends, the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative is working to help communities win federal grants for projects that would help them deal with the increased frequency and severity of floods.

Colin Wellenkamp is the Executive Director of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative. "We have since 2019, and started before 2019 basically since 2016, more and more of our cities have been moving folks out of floodplain and giving floodplain back. We've had additional FEMA buyouts of flood slack land, also, from the Twin Cities down to the St. Louis area."

This year, seven cities located on the Mississippi received a total of $10 million for various projects. Wellenkamp says the money came through the annual appropriations process.

Pump in a Davenport, Iowa riverfront park
Michelle O'Neill
Pump in a Davenport, Iowa riverfront park

"We have new plumps more pumps, more pipes to move water around more efficiently. We have more places to move water now than we did before. And in 2019. And before 2019, so you have been able to onboard additional capacities that didn't exist back then and were continuing that work."

The mayors and MRCTI have been urging the federal government to accept joint grant applications from cities and states. Wellenkamp says that's how "true climate resilience" will be achieved.

In 2021, the cities and towns initiative persuaded Congress to create a federal "resilience revolving loan fund." The goal is to complete projects that would identify, restore, and create wetlands within the Mississippi River basin to alleviate flooding. But no projects have been completed yet.

The City of Davenport is a member of the MRCTI. Late last year, it learned the city's application for a US DOT RAISE grant was not approved. But city officials are confident Davenport's second application will have a very good chance of approval.

Officially, Michelle's title for 28 years was WVIK News Editor. She did everything there is to do in the newsroom and whatever was needed around the radio station. She also served as Acting News Director from September 2023 - January 2024.
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