(SOURCE) Detroit and its suburbs were inundated with record-shattering rainfall during the afternoon rush Monday, leaving hundreds of motorists trapped on flooded freeways and arterial roads. Some cars were nearly submerged to their roofs when they drove into flooded underpasses. Countless city and suburban neighborhood streets were also submerged.
Portions of the Ford Freeway (Interstate 94), the Chrysler Freeway (Interstate 75), Interstate 696, the Southfield Freeway, and the Lodge Freeway remained closed as of early Tuesday morning, 10 hours after the last of the rain had moved out of the area.
Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) spokesperson Dian Cross told the Detroit Free Press that the pump infrastructure used to keep water off roads was “overwhelmed” from the deluge, which caused water to pool up on freeways and other roads in the Detroit Metro.
MDOT said there is no estimate of when I-75 at I-696 in the northern suburbs would reopen, and recommended avoiding I-696 near and east of I-75 through Warren until further notice. According to a sigalert.com traffic camera, one-lane of slow-moving traffic only began to move through Interstate 94 at Livernois Ave. west of downtown Detroit Tuesday morning. A mudslide blocked the Southfield Freeway northbound at Grand River.
Each flooded area needs to be cleaned and inspected before reopening, according to MDOT.
A woman died when she went into cardiac arrest after her car became trapped in floodwaters near the intersection of Van Dyke Road and Old 13 Mile Road, the Detroit Free Press reports. At least one other person was injured when their car was swept away by rising waters.
Michigan State Police announced that they had sent dive teams to search cars for bodies at the bottom of inundated freeways, the Associated Press reports. Lt. Michael Shaw said that the divers were used as a precautionary measure and that no one had been reported missing in the deluge.
“I’ve lived in this area 40 years, and can’t ever recall all the major expressways closing for flooding like happened in today’s storms,” said Jeff Masters, director of meteorology for The Weather Channel’s sister company, Weather Underground.