What We Know About The Davenport Building Collapse

The rear view of The Davenport Apartments in downtown Davenport on Tuesday, May 30, 2023. At least two people were last known to be in the building when the partial collapse happened May 28, 2023.

By Ty Rushing

May 30, 2023

Davenport, Iowa, is in the national spotlight after a building partially collapsed in the heart of its downtown over the weekend. Here’s what we know:

What happened?

A little before 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 28, Davenport first responders answered a call about a collapsed building at 324 Main Street. The six-story apartment building has 79 units and is owned by Davenport Hotel LLC, which is owned by Quad Cities businessman Andrew Wold, according to city, county, and state records.

The building was evacuated and authorities are prohibiting anyone from re-entering it. Additionally, a structural engineer thinks the only thing keeping the rest of the building standing is the debris, which is why he advised against moving it.

Although residents were not allowed to reenter the building to retrieve their pets or belongings, the Quad City Times’ Brooklyn Draisey reported that six cats, two snakes, and a lizard were rescued on Tuesday. 

Was anyone hurt or killed?

One person was hospitalized after being found late Monday, according to the Des Moines Register.  As of Tuesday afternoon, there are no confirmed casualties, but five people are missing and authorities think two of them—Branden Colvin and Ryan Hitchcock—are still in the building.   

During a Tuesday press conference, Amy Anderson, a woman who authorities said was related to Hitchcock, told reporters she thought he was dead and would not want emergency workers to risk their lives to save him.

Meanwhile, Colvin’s family and friends have asked that rescuers continue to work to find him and have not declared him dead. 

No one related to Colvin, who was Black, was allowed to speak during the press conference, while Anderson, who is white, was allowed to speak on behalf of Hitchcock, who is also white.

What is the city doing?

On Monday, the city announced plans to demolish the rest of the building because it “remains in imminent danger of collapse with the condition on site continuing to worsen.” Davenport Fire Chief Mike Carlsten told Iowa media outlets on Monday morning, “I have no known individuals (who) are trapped in that facility.”

However, hours after the city announced this, Lisa Brooks was found by rescuers in the building. This prompted some Davenport residents to start protesting the city’s decision to demolish the building and instead calling for search and rescue efforts to continue.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Davenport Mayor Mike Matson called the situation “very fluid” and “ever evolving.” He also acknowledged the situation with Brooks.

“Lisa Brooks was rescued from the fourth story of the building,” he said. “I’m so thankful she was found safe and alive. The immediate question I know people are asking is: ‘how did she get there and why wasn’t she found earlier?’ I’m totally transparent with you: I do not know, we do not know, but understand, please, that I and the city are committed to finding out why.”

What is the state doing?

Matson said he spoke with Gov. Kim Reynolds four times on the phone between Sunday evening and Tuesday morning’s press conference. Additionally, Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for Scott County, which will allow people who lost their homes to apply for a potential $5,000 grant.

Why are people upset?

People think the city announced its intent to demolish the building and stop the rescue effort too soon. This line of thought was reinforced after Brooks’ rescue, which came hours after city officials said they were certain the building was empty.  

Additionally, residents don’t think enough was done to force Wold and the previous owners of the building to maintain it. The building passed a recent inspection report, which was later amended to a fail.

How can I help?

The Quad Cities Community Foundation is accepting donations for those who lost their homes at 324 Main Street in Davenport. You can donate directly here.

 

by Ty Rushing
05/30/23

 

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  • Ty Rushing

    Ty Rushing is the Chief Political Correspondent for Iowa Starting Line. He is a trail-blazing veteran Iowa journalist, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and co-founder and president of the Iowa Association of Black Journalists. Send tips or story ideas to [email protected] and find him on social media @Rushthewriter.

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