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Detroit Area Hit by Severe Flooding; 1 Woman Dies

Updated: 08/12/2014 2:22 PM
Created: 08/12/2014 1:14 PM KSTP.com

A woman suffered seizures and died after her vehicle became trapped in high water on a suburban Detroit street as heavy rain slammed southeastern Michigan, leaving many roads impassable.
    
Fearing more motorists could become stranded after a storm dumped more than 6 inches of rain in some places in and around Detroit, the state warned commuters against driving in affected areas Tuesday morning.
    
Warren Mayor James Fouts said roughly 1,000 vehicles had been abandoned in floodwaters in the suburb where many roads were closed after 5.2 inches of rain fell Monday. He said he would contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help.
    
"This is going to go down as the great flood of 2014," Fouts said.
    
Tiffany Gatewood said Chrysler's Sterling Heights Assembly plant near Warren sent her and other workers home early Monday night. On her way home, Gatewood's Jeep stalled on a flooded entrance ramp to Interstate 696 and she had to swim to safety.
    
"I've never seen anything like this," the 27-year-old told the AP. "It's like the world is coming to an end."
    
Warren Fire Chief David Frederick said bystanders pulled a 30-year-old Sterling Heights woman from her car after seeing her suffer seizures. They carried her into a nearby business and called firefighters who waded through chest-deep water to get her to an emergency vehicle.
    
She had no vital signs at the scene and was pronounced dead at a hospital, Frederick said.
    
Her name was not released.
    
National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Thompson said the rainfall peaked in suburban Detroit at 6.25 inches. He said 4.57 inches fell at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, breaking the previous record for Aug. 11 at the airport of 2.06 inches in 1964.
    
"This was simply a record event of rain," Gov. Rick Snyder said.
    
"We just need to work through it," Snyder told reporters at Lansing's airport before boarding a state police helicopter to tour the affected areas.
    
Scattered showers and thunderstorms were expected Tuesday, with about ¼-inch more of rain forecast.
    
In the suburb of Royal Oak, the Detroit Zoo was closed after heavy rains and flooding damaged facilities and equipment, including the Arctic Ring of Life exhibit that houses polar bears, seals and arctic foxes.
    
"All animals are secure and there are no concerns with animal welfare at this time," the zoo said in a statement.
    
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said crews were crisscrossing the city to identify flooded streets that needed clearing after the rain overwhelmed the sewer systems.
    
Authorities closed portions of Interstates 75, 94, 696 and the Lodge and Southfield freeways Tuesday. Other roadways remained under water, while mud, debris and vehicles blocked traffic elsewhere. Motorists were stranded on flooded roads in the Flint area.
    
Michigan State Police troopers assisted other stranded motorists and towed abandoned vehicles. The state Department of Transportation assessed damage to roadways and used front-end loaders to clear mud from some freeways.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Cars are stranded along a flooded stretch of Interstate 696 at the Warren, Mich., city limits Tuesday morning.
Photo: AP/Detroit News/David Coates

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