The collapse of a building in Davenport, Iowa has halted demolition plans due to the discovery of trapped individuals. Concerns from residents have prompted a reassessment of the rescue operation.
Residents of Davenport, Iowa are unhappy with the quick removal plans for a damaged building as the search for missing people continues. Despite earlier statements from officials saying that nobody was trapped in the wreckage, rescue workers successfully rescued one resident several hours later.
On Monday morning, a part of an old apartment building in downtown Davenport, Iowa collapsed onto a street. At first, officials claimed that they did not believe anyone was still trapped in the debris. However, as the day progressed and the fallen bricks revealed exposed interiors, the city announced that recovery work had begun and handed control of the site to the Fire Department. They also mentioned that demolition was scheduled to start the next day.
By nightfall on Memorial Day, it became clear that the Davenport leaders had made a big mistake. Protesters gathered at the site, and rescue teams found a resident inside the building and successfully rescued her.
Mayor Mike Matson addressed the situation on Tuesday, acknowledging that more people were still missing and expressing confusion about how the person was found later. The collapse of the six-story building near the Mississippi River and the way the incident was handled upset residents, who questioned whether enough measures were taken to prevent the collapse and criticized the city for declaring the rescue operation complete too soon.
A group of people gathered outside the building on Tuesday, holding signs that said “Save Lives Not Property.” Officials reported that at least five individuals connected to the building were missing on Tuesday, including two who were believed to have been inside. Although no deaths had been confirmed, the situation drew comparisons to other structural collapses, like the New York City parking garage and the Surfside, Florida condo building incidents.
Previous reports had warned about issues with 324 Main Street in Davenport, similar to the collapses mentioned earlier. In January, a complaint led to the brickwork on the building, but an external engineer deemed the structure to be safe. Months later, another report resulted in repair permits being issued, and repairs were underway at the time of the collapse.
Aaron Aguilar, a former resident who visited the collapse site on Monday, stated that he had lived at 324 Main and performed maintenance work there. He observed that the severe storm in August 2020 caused extensive damage to the structure, leading to evacuations. Aguilar noted that the collapse seemed to have happened in the area most affected by the storm damage.
Attempts to contact the property owner on Tuesday were unsuccessful, and authorities announced that an investigation would take place.
Davenport officials defended their response to the collapse, highlighting the immediate deployment of rescue crews who risked their lives to save several people. Search-and-rescue teams, including trained dogs, arrived from different parts of Iowa, but no further signs of people trapped in the debris were found in the following hours.
Mayor Matson addressed questions about the city’s early demolition plans, explaining that their decisions were made in real-time. However, with the demolition on hold due to the building’s unstable condition, the next steps remained uncertain. Structural engineers and rescue crews determined that the building was highly unstable, making it dangerous to conduct another search.
Rescue workers later entered the building and found six cats, two snakes, and a lizard, whose owners had provided information about their whereabouts. The animals were in good health, providing some relief. However, there was no immediate update on the missing residents.
Amy Anderson, a family member of one of the missing individuals, appealed to the community to be patient and respectful as the search efforts continued. She emphasized the importance of allowing the city to carry out their plans effectively and mentioned her relative’s Christian faith and his desire to avoid causing further harm to those involved in the search.
Outside the apartment building, 18-year-old Branden Colvin Jr. expressed his hope for the safe return of his missing father, Branden Colvin Sr. According to family members, the elder Mr. Colvin returned to the building from work, briefly spoke to a neighbor, and went back to his unit for a nap. Since then, he has not been seen, and his black Honda Accord remains parked outside.