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Rushing Floodwaters Could Swamp Northeast Iowa All Week Long

by Alex Johnson /  / Updated 
Mailboxes peek above the surface of floodwaters Saturday in the North Cedar neighborhood of Cedar Falls, Iowa.AP

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Heavy rain that caused major flooding in the Midwest all but ended Sunday. Now comes the real flooding.

Floodwaters receded after storms that killed at least two people in Wisconsin, closed Interstate 94 in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, and stranded motorists in Ames, Iowa, last week. But because it has to go somewhere, the water was rushing over the Cedar River toward Cedar Rapids and other cities in northeast Iowa.

Many communities are under flood warnings all the way through Friday along the Cedar River, which was at 97.7 feet at Cedar Falls on Sunday, almost 10 feet above flood stage, the National Weather Service said.

 Mailboxes peek above the surface of floodwaters Saturday in the North Cedar neighborhood of Cedar Falls, Iowa. AP

It's the second-highest crest of the river at Cedar Falls on record — and it isn't expected to fall below flood stage until as late as Friday night in some areas.

Residents of about 100 homes in the town of Palo, about 10 miles northwest of Cedar Rapids, were ordered to evacuate, and residents of about 5,000 homes in Cedar Rapids itself — the state's second-largest city — were advised to evacuate by 8 p.m. (9 p.m. ET).

Related: Why We Should Pay More Attention to Flood-Proofing America

At Cedar Rapids, the Cedar River is expected to crest at 23 feet Monday night — 11 feet above flood stage.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad declared a state of emergency in Cedar and 12 other counties and mobilized the National Guard, whose troops were already joining police Sunday in patrolling areas of Cedar Rapids that under an indefinite 8 p.m.-to 7 a.m. curfew.

Alliant Energy, the area's main electric utility, warned residents that it might have to shut off electricity and gas with little or no warning.

In Manchester, along the Maquoketa River 35 miles north of Cedar Rapids, business owners were in despair as rising water submerged Main Street.

"It's very scary, because you lose a lot and it feels helpless — you feel helpless," said Laura Villagrana, owner of Rio Blanco Mexican Restaurant, told NBC station KWWL of Cedar Rapids. "There's not much you can do other than block some of the water so the water doesn't come in so fast."

Bryan Uhrig, owner of Beauty and the Beast Barber Shop, told the station: "There's not a lot you can do about it — just deal with it as it goes on."

 An unidentified man jumped into the Cedar River in Waterloo, Iowa, to rescue a marooned doe. KWWL-TV via NBC News Channel

In Waterloo, 6 miles southeast of Cedar Falls, onlookers hailed three men as heroes after two of them helped the third jump into the raging Cedar River to save a marooned deer Saturday night.

People standing near the 4th Street Bridge started screaming when the doe jumped into the river, swam a few hundred feet against the current and got stranded near the bridge, witnesses told KWWL.

"My daughter called 911, and another lady called the police department, and the police department said they couldn't do anything," said Trazon Walker, one of the witnesses. "They said she is just going to have to swim to shore" on her own.

 An unidentified man who jumped into the Cedar River in Waterloo, Iowa, carries a rescued doe to a truck to be released into the wild Saturday night. KWWL-TV via NBC News Channel

That wasn't good enough for Jamod Sallis and two other men, who huddled and hatched a plan to rescue the terrified baby deer.

Sallis held a second man who was tethered to a railing. The third man grabbed a life jacket, jumped into the river and waded out to the doe, which he strapped in as Sallis and the second man pulled them to the bridge wall and up to safety.

Sallis and the two other men, who didn't want to be identified, took the deer out of town and released it.

"It feels good to see the city coming together in the midst of something like this to be able to save wildlife," Sallis told KWWL. "There's a lot of animals that won't be able to make it through this flood."

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