Murky, muddy floodwaters were receding Sunday from neighborhoods in Iowa's two largest cities. In Des Moines, officials said they broke open a levee in a second spot downstream from where the levee was breached Saturday to allow water to flow out of a flooded neighborhood.
In Cedar Rapids, the Cedar River continued to retreat, giving many residents a chance to get their first look inside their flood-ruined homes.
The city has set up a handful of checkpoints leading into the flooded neighborhoods. At one on First Avenue, near one of the most severely damaged sections of town, residents waited for a National Guard escort to homes where the water had fully retreated. They could check out the damage but could only take out what they could carry on foot.
Some of the people coming back were in tears.
Dan Bowers was one of those waiting in a line stretching back half a block or so. He said when he evacuated on Wednesday night, he had no idea the flood would be so bad.
"I moved everything from the basement to the first floor," he said. "My house had never been flooded before, and so I thought that would save everything."
But then he saw video on television of a boat going through deep water in his neighborhood. He thinks he may have lost everything.
"All my furniture, all my pictures, personal belongings, clothes, appliances," he said.
Replacing those things, plus repairing flood damage or rebuilding, if necessary, won't be easy for Bowers.
"Most of the damage is done in non-flood plain areas where there's no insurance," he said. "I know I didn't have flood insurance."
There are likely thousands of others in the same situation in Cedar Rapids, promising to make the process of rebuilding the city much more difficult. Bowers, a lifelong resident, says it will probably be years before his city returns to normal.