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Iowans wait for rivers to crest

DES MOINES, Iowa, June 14 (UPI) -- Flood waters began receding Saturday in some Iowa towns while others waited for rivers to crest.

In Des Moines, the state capital, Mayor Frank Crownie announced the lifting of voluntary evacuation orders as of 6 p.m. CDT as the Des Moines River began dropping, the Des Moines Register reported. He said inspectors had determined bridges and levees are safe except in the Birdland neighborhood, where a mandatory evacuation remained in effect.

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The water also began to drop in Cedar Rapids, possibly the worst-hit town in the state, and officials released plans to begin inspecting homes and businesses, KCRG-TV reported. But much of the city remained underwater.

A 59-year-old woman was found dead in her flooded home on Friday.

The city was under an 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew.

The National Weather Service said the Iowa River, already well above flood stage, was expected to continue rising in Iowa City through Tuesday morning. The flooding threatens the University of Iowa campus, where volunteers moved library materials to higher levels and built walls of sandbags on campus.

"This is our last effort," UI President Sallie Mason told the Register as she surveyed walls of sandbags on campus.

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Where the Iowa and Cedar rivers join at Columbus Junction, authorities ordered all 250 residents of Fredonia to evacuate. In Columbus Junction and Columbus City, those living near the levee and in low-lying areas were also told to leave.

Columbus Junction Councilman Hal Prior, who said river levels were higher than expected, predicted a "catastrophic failure" of the levee.

The Birdland neighborhood in Des Moines was totally emptied early Saturday after a levee failed.

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver toured the city with members of Iowa's congressional delegation, visiting an emergency shelter at a county fairgrounds and parts of the University of Iowa campus that border the river.

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