Partially collapsed apartment building set to be demolished in Iowa amid protests

(DAVENPORT, Iowa) — A partially collapsed apartment building is set to be demolished in eastern Iowa on Tuesday morning, despite calls for a delay from members of the community who say their loved ones are still missing.

A six-story building partially collapsed on Sunday afternoon in Davenport, a city in Iowa’s Scott County located along the Mississippi River. The building housed a total of 84 apartments between residential and commercial, according to Davenport Mayor Mike Matson and Davenport Fire Chief Michael Carlsten. The cause of the collapse was unknown and remains under investigation.

More than a dozen people evacuated the building at the time of the collapse, while eight others had to be rescued in the hours afterward. The eighth victim was extracted from the site late Sunday and transported to a hospital in unknown condition, Matson and Carlsten said at a press conference on Monday morning. At that time, no deaths had been confirmed and there was no credible information that anyone is missing.

Over 150 personnel have taken part in the “extensive rescue operations,” using thermal imaging, drones and a team of service dogs in an attempt to locate victims within the structure, according to a press release from the Davenport city government. As of Monday night, crews had found “no confirmed viable signs of life” since rescuing the eighth victim, the city said.

The city hired an independent and certified structural engineer to evaluate the structural integrity of the building. The engineer determined that the building is “in imminent danger of collapse with the condition on site continuing to worsen,” the city said. Officials are working with a local contractor on a plan to safely dismantle and demolish the remaining structure.

A notice and order for demolition has been served to the owner of the property. Demolition is expected to begin Tuesday morning. Due to the unstable condition, residents will not be allowed back into the building prior to demolition, according to the city.

“With the current structure in imminent danger of collapse, the necessity to demolish this building stems specifically from our desire to maintain as much safety for the surrounding areas as possible,” said Rich Oswald, director of the City of Davenport’s Development and Neighborhood Services, said in a statement late Monday. “We appreciate the expertise of the professionals collaborating on site to determine the best way to do this.”

Meanwhile, the Davenport Police Department has been working to make contact with and account for all individuals known to be residents in the building at the time of the collapse. There are currently an unspecified number of residents who remain unaccounted for, according to the city.

A large crowd gathered at the site on Monday, calling for “accountability” and pleading with officials not to demolish the structure because they believe people could still be alive inside. A protest is scheduled for Tuesday morning ahead of the planned demolition.

Johnnie Woods told The Des Moines Register that her nephew Branden Colvin, who lived on the fifth floor of the building, didn’t show up to a family gathering on Sunday and hasn’t been seen since.

“He didn’t make it, so then we heard about this building collapse where he lived and we just assumed he must have been in the building,” Woods told the newspaper on Monday.

“My other nephews and other people have been trying to call his phone, and he’s not answering his phone,” she added. “So we’re assuming something, that he can’t talk, his phone is dead, or something. Really, we don’t know anything.”

Woods said she wants officials to share more information about who was in the building and who had or had not been located.

“You don’t have to say names, but you can at least say: ‘We have everybody out. We have the list of names from the apartment complex, and we got everybody out,"” she told The Des Moines Register.

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