Muscatine readies itself for Mississippi crest Thursday

At the Mississippi Brewing Company on Iowa Avenue in downtown Muscatine, the owners are ready to face the Mississippi’s might. It is expected to crest her...

MUSCATINE, Iowa -- The Mississippi is expected to crest in Muscatine on Thursday, May 2, at 24.3 feet. At the Mississippi Brewing Company on Iowa Avenue downtown, the owners have been getting ready a month ago.

"We knew it was coming," said Dave Armstrong, who co-owns the bar and grill with his sister.

The family moved everything off their basement floor to another storage room.

"Water seeps underground and fills it up," he said, adding that 21 pumps were constantly running to the water in the basement under a foot. Otherwise it affects the electricity, he explained.
The bar upstairs is open for business. Three of Armstrong's sisters and his five kids work here, as well as several nieces and nephews.

Armstrong said it was hard to watch Davenport struggle Tuesday night.

"I feel so sorry for the people of Davenport. Seeing that happen was tragic."

The Armstrongs started preparations that day.

"At 4 PM we started sandbagging. We had a load of sand dumped, had about 30 volunteer show up," he said. So many in fact that they were done in less than three hours.

"I thought it was gonna be a two-day event," he marveled.

"Customers, friends, community people, people walking by stopped and grabbed a shovel. It was just amazing."

Next door at Gary's Garage, however, things are a bit more dicey.

"We had experienced a couple years back where we built a sandbag wall and the railroad knocked it over," said the owner, Gary Diercks.

So Diercks built Hesco barriers, three feet tall. But that may not be tall enough. Every time the train passes on the nearby raised tracks, huge waves lap over the barriers.

Today Armstrong was lending a hand to his neighbor Diercks, as others have done for him, bagging sand and tying sandbags.