One year ago - on April 30, 2019 - the Quad Cities made national headlines, but not for the right reasons.
The Mighty Mississippi took over a portion of the temporary flood wall of HESCO barriers in downtown Davenport, spilling water into the streets. Two days later, the river crested at 22.7 feet - breaking the record from 1993.
The aftermath of the flood - and all the footage that went along with it - was almost as damaging as the natural disaster itself. People around the country saw a city underwater and expected the worst.
"In terms of managing our brand and that reputation, all eyes and ears were tuned into downtown Davenport and the Quad Cities and that has an impact in terms of how you convey a message of tourism and visitation and being in a market you want people to travel to," said Dave Herrell, President & CEO of Visit Quad Cities.
Herrell said the biggest challenge since that historic day has been helping downtown Davenport rebuild - not just the businesses, but its brand.
"Downtowns are really the heart and soul of a community and I think our vibrant downtowns are such a huge part of our visitor economy and our destination story, so if they’re healthy and they’re growing and there are people who are coming down and experiencing them and consuming our community - that’s important. The stronger they are, the stronger our brand is from a national perspective, so making sure they are healthy and that they’re sustained is vitally important to our destination’s future."
Downtown Davenport has definitely made a comeback. While several businesses were forced to close for good or move to another part of the area, many others remodeled and reopened.
"We’re still resilient and I think Quad Citizens are gritty," explained Dave. "We roll up our sleeves, we work hard and I think that is in our DNA."
"There are people here who care about the vibrancy of their community, about its future, and the fact that you can kind of lock arms publicly, privately from a business perspective and really join forces to make it better. I think that’s what we’re all about. That’s what we stand for."
It's now time to look to the future. May 3-9 is National Travel and Tourism Week and Dave said he hopes Quad Citizens will get involved:
"If you’re a Quad Citizen, we want you to love your community, we want you to share our unique authentic story with the world. It’s really important. It’s not safe to travel right now, but soon we’ll be able to and that’s the message we want to convey. We’re ready to get back out there. We want to welcome visitors back into the Quad Cities. We’ve got a great story to tell. We’ve got an amazing product to sell and we know we’re going to be able to do it."