Record Rains Cause Major Flooding in Detroit -- Update

By Dow Jones Business News, 
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By Matthew Dolan

DETROIT--The heaviest rain to hit in almost a century left a trail of flooded highways, mud-strewn roads littered with abandoned cars and waterlogged basements across the Detroit metropolitan area.

The state police warned drivers away from many of the major roadways knitting the city to its suburbs across southeastern Michigan Tuesday morning. Law enforcement authorities cautioned against motorists trying to cross flooded streets after the storm dumped more than 6 inches of rain in suburban Detroit. Thousands of motorists were delayed for hours Monday night as several highways turned into virtual rivers. The Associated Press reported that one woman died after her vehicle was stranded in three feet of water.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Monday's series of storms in Detroit "dumped the most rain it has seen in a single day in 89 years."

The city's water and sewerage department's operational systems didn't fail during the deluge, despite flooding that made major roadways impassable, Mr. Duggan said Tuesday in a statement.

"Unfortunately, the volume of rain--over 5 inches in some areas--overwhelmed sewer systems, causing widespread flooding," he said. As of Tuesday morning, water levels were subsiding and most road flooding had receded, he said.

But many roads in the region were still flooded late Tuesday morning, according to Michigan State Police.

The National Weather Service warned that brief heavy downpours were still possible later Tuesday, potentially aggravating flooding concerns by slowing the recession of elevated water. The epic rain on Monday was concentrated in a four-hour period in which four to 6 inches fell across the region, according to weather service officials. The Detroit metropolitan airport had its second highest rainfall total in a single day, just shy of the July, 31, 1925 record, said Sara Schultz, meteorologist with the National Weather Services Detroit-Pontiac area office.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder surveyed the flood damage Tuesday afternoon, pledging the resources of the state police and other agencies to assist communities clear roads strewed with disabled vehicles, reopen water-covered highways and help homeowners and businesses recover from flood damage. But Mr. Snyder said he didn't yet see the need to call in the Michigan National Guard to assist.

The region's auto makers didn't escape unscathed.

Hardest hit were Chrysler plants in Detroit, Sterling Heights and Warren. Workers were sent home early from the company's Sterling Heights plant Monday night. General Motors Co. closed its sprawling Warren Technical Center campus Tuesday, affecting 19,000 people.

Ford Motor Co. said its plant operations on Monday saw production slowdowns at a truck and stamping plant in Dearborn, an assembly plant in Wayne, an axle and transmission plants in Sterling Heights, and a stamping plant in Woodhaven, Mich. Ripple effects were felt at Ford plants in Chicago and Kentucky from flooding at Michigan-based suppliers, according to Ford. By Tuesday, production schedules resumed, the company said

Jeff Bennett and Mike Ramsey contributed to this article.

Write to Matthew Dolan at matthew.dolan@wsj.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires


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