DEWAR --- Mary Ann Miller's rain gauge collected 4 inches in three hours, and all that water had to go somewhere.

Runoff rolled down neighboring hills and into Pleasant Valley Creek, normally more pleasant than creek.

"Right now it's a raging river," Jayne Kemmerer said Wednesday morning.

She lives about two blocks from the small stream. Within an hour, her home in Dewar was surrounded by waist-deep water.

"It came up on us fast," Kemmerer said.

Baby-sitting two grandchildren, Jaxon, 2, and Alivia, 7, she felt secure at first. But as the water continued to rise, Kemmerer requested help from Dunkerton firefighters, who responded in a flat-bottom boat.

Kathy Brakebill, owner of Kathy's Korner, restored her tavern in Dewar after floods in 1993 and 1999. As she watched the water rise Wednesday, a thought flashed through her mind.

"Not again --- I didn't want to go through this again," she said.

Brakebill knows what to expect when the creek remembers its proper place.

"Cleaning up, the smell, mud, losing product and losing business," she said.

The post office in Dewar took on more than 12 inches of water, forcing officials to shut down. Postmaster Relief Janet Sharp later moved mail for the community's 75 box holders to the Gilbertville Post Office about eight miles away, according to a statement from the U.S. Postal Service.

Customers can call Sharp at (319) 296-1720 for information.

Parts of Buchanan County were in a precarious state Wednesday afternoon. Forecasts called for the Wapsipinicon River to crest this morning at 15.49 feet in Independence, according to the National Weather Service. Flood stage is 12 feet.

Buchanan County Emergency Management Agency coordinator Rick Wulfekuhle worried approaching storms might drop more rain.

"It's pretty critical right now," he said Wednesday.

Wulfekuhle was keeping an eye specifically on Littleton and Otterville. Sandbags were available in Independence, he added, and some residents took advantage of the supplies.

Tim Frost, owner of Frost Painting in Raymond, was also watching the water Wednesday morning. His shop is a few feet from a waterway, which under ordinary conditions is covered in grass.

Instead, a stream at least 2 feet deep tore across his yard, as it rose, edging toward his property. Though as high as he had ever seen, Frost wasn't particularly concerned.

"If it quits raining, all this will drain quite quickly," he said.

In Dunkerton, officials opened the school as a shelter when runoff washed into the downtown area from the south. At the same time, Crane Creek on the north threatened to overflow.

"It's on the rise," firefighter D.J. Manahl said.

Fayette County residents faced their share of problems, primarily in Oelwein, according to Sheriff Marty Fisher.

"It was definitely flooding over the roadways and on a lot of the streets and highways," he said.

No injuries were reported but Otter Creek, barely ankle deep ordinarily, swept away anything that wasn't nailed down. Near the intersection of Third Avenue Northeast and Second Avenue Northeast, residents estimated the channel filled with 10 to 12 feet of fast-moving water.

Neighbors woke LeeAnna Wellman, who lives nearby. She discovered her dog, chained in the back yard, struggling to keep his head above the flow.

"The current was pulling him under. I grabbed his collar and pulled him toward the house," Wellman said.

Good Samaritans carried her 2-year-old and 7-month-old kids to safety.

"It was kind of scary," Wellman said.

Neighbor Bill Shaner was at work when the rain started. He got home in time to see Otter Creek swirling around his house and later discovered a good portion of his foundation washed away. A column of blocks supported one corner until workers slipped a steel beam in for additional support.

"When I walked in the house, the microwave clock was 9:11. I thought, 'How fitting,'" Shaner said.

He had rented the property for about 10 years and liked the neighborhood. After the flood, though, Shaner said he wasn't quite sure about his next move.

"It just leaves you about numb," he said.

Vogel Insurance Agency in Oelwein is also near the creek, but employee Shanna Tylee said the building was spared.

Water washed down streets and filled parking lots as workers and residents attempted to move vehicles to higher ground and get out of the way. At one point, the rising water reached Tylee's knees.

"I know it came up pretty fast," she said.

The water went right up to the front door of the business and stopped.

"We got lucky," Tylee said.

Karen Heinselman contributed to this story.

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