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Motor City paralyzed by flooding, water removal ongoing

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(WJBK) - It could be days, weeks - even months before things return to normal on some metro Detroit freeways as tons of standing water still remains after a record-setting rain Monday.

The National Weather Service says 4.57 inches of rain fell at the Detroit Metro Airport, breaking the previous record for Aug. 11 at the airport of 2.06 inches from 1964. Monday's rainfall was the second-highest one-day rainfall on record for Detroit, behind 4.74 inches that fell on July 31, 1925.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder issued a declaration of disaster Wednesday for Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

Michigan State Police dive teams have been in the water on the surrounding freeways checking for structural damage near the intersection of Interstate-75 and Interstate-696. A waterfall spilled onto I-75 earlier, leaving massive erosion.

At parts of the Southfield Freeway the water was 14 feet high, reaching up to the overpass. Normally the excess water would be pumped out to Ecorse Creek, but that is also full of water.

Water was also several feet high at the Lodge near Rosa Parks.

MOTOR CITY DRIVERS: Click here for an up-to-date list of freeway closures


"It really is unprecedented. We haven't seen anything like this before," said Diane Cross, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Cross said a multitude of factors led to the massive flooding, including power failures at pumping stations and debris clogging sewers and drains.

"Embankments are turning into mudslides. There's human waste in the water and possible electrical wires that are down there," said Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw.

The message from law enforcement is to stay away and respect the barricades that have been set up. 

"The freeway system wasn't built to become a river," says Shaw. "Our overpasses weren't built to be bridges over rivers."

Gov. Snyder came back from the Upper Peninsula for an aerial tour of the damage to metro Detroit's roadways.

"Some of the embankments, we had erosion there," Snyder says. "Those are the types of issues I want to make sure we're following up on. Not just the road services, but the surrounding areas to avoid erosion problems."

Snyder says the state's emergency operation center is evaluating requests for disaster relief for local communities. Right now, he does not see a need for the National Guard to help.
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