DES MOINES, Iowa - Muddy flood waters retreated from sections of Iowa's two largest cities on Sunday, exposing ruined homes and businesses, while the battle against still-rising rivers continued downstream.
Authorities opened a second breach in a broken levee built to hold back the raging
More than 9 square miles (14 sq km), or 1,300 city blocks, of the city of 140,000 were flooded at one point, and the fast-retreating water exposed a thick muck that officials warned could contain hazardous chemicals.
Delores Korsmo found ankle-deep water inside her home, with the refrigerator floating in the middle of the kitchen. She said she has no flood insurance.
"I hope I can get it fixed up," she told the Cedar Rapids Gazette. "I'll have to find someone with money."
Owners of businesses in downtown Cedar Rapids, where the water topped streets signs and shut down a giant cereal factory, were escorted to their offices on upper floors of buildings via an elevated "skywalk" to retrieve laptop computers and documents. Pumps were brought in to salvage the police station.
LOSSES IN THE BILLIONS
Gov. Chet Culver said
"My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have suffered from the floods in our country. I know there's a lot of people hurting right now," Bush said.
Heavy spring rains have delayed planting of crops and submerged farm fields, sparking a record spike in corn prices and price jumps for other commodities. This may aggravate an upsurge in inflation, lifting food prices further and increasing costs of making fuel like ethanol /from corn.
Officials at the
"They've been in an active flood fight for the last six days and are staying even with it at this point," said John Benson of the state's Department of Homeland Security.
Scattered thunderstorms early on Sunday caused a slight "blip" in river levels, but did not appreciably alter forecasted river crests, Benson said. Mostly clear weather was forecast for much of the coming week.
Girding for the watery onslaught from the
A 300-mile (480-km) stretch of the vital waterway has been closed to barge traffic.
Already, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich directed resources to the small riverfront towns of Keithsburg and Carman, where protective levees broke on Sunday.