BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (AP) _ Hot water heaters and awnings floated on the placid, oily waters Sunday as some residents returned in boats to check the homes they abandoned to the Caney River.

Frank Danel left his one-level brick home Saturday as the river, normally about 2 1/2 miles away, flowed out of its banks, turning parts of the neighborhood into a lake.

Danel said he stacked sand bags 4 feet high around his house, but the water rose 5 feet and ruined everything inside.

''We put furniture up high but it didn't help,'' he said.

The sand bags had kept the water inside the house, and Danel had to tear them out to let the water escape.

Danel said he would start from scratch to rebuild.

''It took us 15 years to get what we've had, and it may take another 25 years to replace it,'' he said.

Heavy rains earlier in the week forced release of water from overfilled reservoirs, which pushed the Caney River to a crest of 31 feet early Sunday. By Sunday afternoon, it had dropped to 29 feet, Washington County Civil Defense said.

Streets in Danel's neighborhood were evident only by rows of houses and the occasional street signs that stood out above the water.

The receding waters left oily dirt on the sides of houses and revealed trash, wood, overturned motorcycles and a waterlogged bale of hay.