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The Great Flood of '23

Lower level of the Clinton Riverfront completely flooded

As you all know, we are currently in the midst of what is considered a major flood (22 feet) along the Mississippi River. Although it doesn’t directly affect Eldridge, the flood greatly affects many neighboring communities along the coast of the river. The flooding typically occurs yearly because of snow melt, but due to the early rise in temperatures and the abundance of snow up north, the melting of the snow occurred at a rapid rate thus causing flood levels to reach record highs. The “normal” level of the Mississippi is between 9 and 10 feet; early Monday morning, it crested around 22’4 feet. The last time such high water levels were measured was in 2019 when the river crested at 22’7 feet.

My boat ramp and parking lot completely flooded

I moved here over a year ago; however, the flood is something that is more prevalent back home … when I say back home I mean approximately 35 minutes away … In Clinton:) A large part of my life has been spent on the river, and we currently are one of very few dock renters that currently have their boats in the water. Because we are priority members at the marina, we get our boat put in the water at the very beginning of the season, the first or second week of April to be exact. Our boat was put in the water prior to flood warnings and prior to water level predictions so we, and Tyler, the guy who puts our boat in, were completely unaware of the dangerous water levels the marina would be seeing in the upcoming weeks.

The Clinton Riverfront, water level approximately 12ft

In Clinton, the ‘dike’, which is literally just a highly elevated road along the riverfront, protects the town from any flooding. On the main part of the riverfront, where the marina is, there are two levels--the higher level, which is Riverview Drive, and the lower level where there is access to the docks, the marina, the lower level of the bike path, the restaurant, and a few other amenities. Typically the lower level is about 12 feet above the water, allowing the water to reach about 19 feet before there are any signs of flooding. This year the entire lower level is under water, limiting access to any docks as well as the restaurant and the marina. There is limited parking along Riverview Drive, however, that is where employees usually park and there is no access for the food truck to reach the restaurant. There will be limited damage seen in Clinton and there typically isn’t much as the dike was built in the early 70s following the Great Flood of '65.

River reaching above the 12 foot wall in Cordova

My dad’s parents also live along the river, in Cordova just South of the nuclear power plant. They have complete flood protection as an enormous retaining wall was built prior to construction of their house in 2007. Their wall is built with giant cement blocks and is usually about 8 feet from the water and 12 feet above it. Sunday afternoon, after taking many detours due to road closures caused by flood conditions, I went up to visit them and see what the water looked like from their house. Sunday was extremely windy and the water was rough, but never did I think there would be WAVES. In their FRONT YARD. Typically in the next week or so we would be putting my grandpa’s dock out as the water would be lowering to a safer level, but it will take some time for such high water to go down.

In the next few weeks flood levels will decline but many small towns will be left with a mess to clean up. Princeton has minimal protection against flood waters as well as Davenport and many smaller communities on the Illinois side. Entire fields owned and recently planted by farmers have been destroyed as water has seeped above ground even in places not directly bordering the river. The river is expected to reach semi-normal levels by the middle of May but those living in communities affected are surely watching the river forecast as for them any change could make or break the way they live their day to day lives.

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