August 13, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Final stretch of I-75 reopened, clearing Metro Detroit freeways of flood debris

Crews on Wedneday cleared all east and westbound I-696 lanes as well as ramps to I-75. Shown is I-696 near Mound Road exit in Warren on Wednesday. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

After working furiously to pump water from areas damaged by Monday’s flood, the Michigan Department of Transportation announced Wednesday evening that all Metro Detroit freeways were open.

MDOT announced in a 6:30 p.m. tweet that northbound I-75 between 8 Mile and I-696 was cleared, making it the final section of freeway to open.

Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday meanwhile authorized a state of disaster for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties along with their flood-damaged municipalities in the wake of Monday’s record-setting deluge.

Later Wednesday, Executive Mark Hackel declared a state of emergency in Macomb County, following a similar declaration earlier in the day by his counterpart, Executive L. Brooks Patterson, in Oakland County.

MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross said crews worked gallantly to open area freeways to traffic.

“We’ve all worked tremendous overtime to deal with this emergency situation,” Cross said in an email.

In a statement Snyder said: “The flooding that continues to impact Southeastern Michigan is a disaster in every sense of the word.”

“As local and state authorities work around the clock to deal with this situation, it is clear that the significant personal property and infrastructure damage, coupled with ongoing threats to public safety, warrants this state declaration,” the governor said. “By taking this action, the state can fully coordinate and maximize efforts to support its local partners.”

The declaration effectively opens up options for state funds to be allocated to help affected areas, according to Snyder spokesman Dave Murray. Snyder said Tuesday that the state would be exploring options to obtain federal aid as a part of routine procedures.

The last time the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid was available to Michigan was for serious flooding outstate from April to May 2013, according to FEMA.

Affected areas included: Allegan, Baraga, Barry, Gogebic, Houghton, Ionia, Kent, Keweenaw, Marquette, Midland, Muskegon, Newaygo, Ontonagon, Osceola, Ottawa, and Saginaw counties.

“I’m proud of our communities and residents throughout the region for pulling together in the face of these challenges,” Snyder said. “Please remember that safety must be our top priority, so I encourage everyone to exercise great caution as the cleanup continues.”

In Oakland County, Patterson declared a state of emergency on Wednesday for excessive rainfall causing flooding.

“Oakland County wants to ensure that all the channels are clear for our communities to request assistance in the aftermath of this historic flooding,” Patterson said.

As a part of the declaration, Oakland County Health Division’s was expected to deploy a team of public health sanitarians to assess and assist restaurants in regard to food protection protocols.

By Wednesday afternoon at least six Oakland County cities — Berkley, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Oak Park, and Royal Oak — had declared a state of emergency.

“This has been a major flooding situation,” Hackel said in press release. “Our Emergency Management team continues to receive reports and requests for assistance from the flooding which caused major roads and highways to be closed and considerable damage to homes and businesses.”

Starting Thursday, residents in need of information can call (586) 493-6767, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Residents and businesses who suffered damage from the heavy rain and floods can use an online reporting tool, the Damage Assessment Report Form, which can be found on the Emergency Management website at http://oemc.macombgov.org.

Also the county has also established a damage assessment reporting center at the Southwest Health Center at 27690 Van Dyke, Warren, 48093 for residents who do not have access to a computer or need help completing the form.

On Tuesday, a state of emergency was declared in Wayne County and Warren, a designation that allows federal relief and support.

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Crews cleared all east and westbound I-696 lanes as well as ramps to I-75. Eastbound 696 was previously closed between I-75 to Gratiot.

I-75 remained closed under I-696, where flood waters swelled to 15 feet on Monday night.

Northbound Southfield from Ford to Outer Drive and Southbound Southfield from Ford to I-94 reopened by 1:15 p.m.

All lanes of eastbound and westbound I-94 from Greenfield to Michigan Avenue have reopened, according to MDOT.

MDOT workers moved barricades from the westbound Davison Freeway ramp to southbound I-75 at about noon Tuesday, reopening the connection sooner than expected.

Stranded vehicles are being towed away from the affected areas as water recedes. Owners of stranded vehicles should contact their local law enforcement agency or the MSP Metro Post at (248) 584-5740 to determine where their vehicle was towed.

The Southeastern Michigan Chapter of the American Red Cross has opened an emergency shelter in Garden City for those affected by flooding.

Garden City Middle School, 1851 Radcliff, is offering food, shelter and minor first aid for those in need.

Red Cross volunteers have been sent to communities including Detroit, Warren, Ferndale, Royal Oak, Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.

Property owners are asked to work with their insurance agent or provider to file a claim. They can also call the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services at (877) 999-6442 for additional questions or concerns, Snyder said in the statement.

Staff Writer Mike Martindale and Associated Press contributed to this story.

Cleanup on Southfield at Outer Drive. (David Coates / Detroit News)
Cleanup on I-75 in Madison Heights. (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)
Outer Drive is still flooded in front of Baker College near I-94 in Allen ... (David Coates / The Detroit News)