Michigan flooding: 'overwhelming,' says local mayor (+video)

Michigan flooding, which caused at least one fatality, is 'overwhelming' and 'catastrophic' according to the mayor of Warren, Mich. Officials are warning commuters against driving in areas affected by the Michigan flooding.

A woman died when her vehicle became stranded in 3 feet of water in suburban Detroit, after heavy rain across southeastern Michigan left many roads impassable.

Fearing more motorists could become stranded a day 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.

“All freeways in the metro area are currently experiencing flooding at different points,” said Lt. Michael Shaw, a Michigan State Police spokesman, as reported by the Detroit Free Press. Shaw said people should avoid driving through standing water because it’s hard to determine how deep it actually is.

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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 was seeking state help for residents dealing with the "overwhelming" and "catastrophic" flooding.

Fouts said a woman apparently died of cardiac arrest when her vehicle got stuck in floods. He did not name the woman or say when she died.

The Associated Press left a message for Fouts seeking more information.

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.

"The Detroit metro area ... had a long period of rainfall and there were some embedded thunderstorms that enhanced the rainfall rates," Thompson said.

Scattered showers and thunderstorms were expected Tuesday, with about ¼-inch more of rain forecast.

Portions of Interstates 75, 94, 696 and the Lodge and Southfield freeways were closed Tuesday morning. 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 stranded motorists and cleared abandoned vehicles. The state Department of Transportation assessed damage to roadways and used front-end loaders Tuesday morning to clear mud from some freeways.

Lt. Michael Shaw said a dive team was checking Interstate 94 at Michigan Avenue and planned to check the interchange for interstates 696 and 275. He said there had been no reports of people missing in the floods, but that police wanted to be sure.

Gov. Rick Snyder, who was in the Upper Peninsula on Tuesday morning, said additional state troopers, road crews and other resources would assist in the recovery and cleanup. He planned to survey the affected area by plane Tuesday.

"We've taken a dramatic series of actions," Snyder told WWJ-AM.

In the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, the Detroit Zoo was closed Tuesday 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.

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