More rain on way to Metro Detroit after streets flood

Nicquel Terry, James David Dickson, Charles E. Ramirez, and Shawn D. Lewis

More rain is expected to hit a heavily saturated Metro Detroit through Friday evening following torrential downpours Thursday that forced crews to shut down freeways and rescue drivers from disabled vehicles.

A flood watch remains in effect for southeast Michigan until 8 p.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service. The area could see 1-3 inches of rain by Friday evening “with a trend toward higher amounts north of Metro Detroit through Flint and Port Huron” during the day, according to the watch.

Meanwhile, the weather service has issued flood warnings until further notice for the Rouge River in Detroit and the Lower Rouge River in Inkster and Dearborn.

On Thursday night, the Rouge was 14.9 feet and rising. Its flood stage is 15 feet; the river was forecast to crest around 15.3 after midnight.

Fenkell was expected to see 3 feet of water, impacting businesses along that road. Residents in nearby neighborhoods may have to be evacuated due to basement flooding in the Livonia area.

The Lower Rouge River had already passed its flood stage of 10.2 feet late Thursday but was expected to fall, the weather service said. However, “additional heavy rainfall could lead to a rising trend again during Friday,” the flood warning read.

The Clinton River in Clinton Township peaked at 16.43 feet — above the flood stage of 16 feet — but was forecast to fall.

Rainfall totals throughout the area Thursday ranged from 2-4 inches, Dan Thompson, a meteorologist with the weather service, said Thursday.

Detroit City Airport had recorded 4.71 inches by 8 p.m. Thursday, weather service data shows. Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus had 3.08 inches of rain.

Leah Marsolais of Bloomfield Township was shaken up Thursday afternoon after she attempted to drive under an overpass on Beaubien, south of East Grand in Detroit, but ended up stuck in knee-deep water. Another car was also stranded.

Marsolais said she kept driving on the flooded road because “other cars were making it.” A man driving a pickup pulled her car out of the water, Marsolais said.

“I thought I was having a panic attack,” Marsolais said.

The hardest hit areas on Thursday were near Detroit City Airport, which reported 4.5 inches of rain, while parts of Dearborn and nearby Detroit received more than 3 inches of rain,.

An “upper-level storm system” is parked over the Ohio Valley, said Rich Pollman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. That system won’t be moving on until later Sunday, Pollman said. Heavy thunderstorm bands are expected Friday, carrying the potential for heavy rain.

The floods are due not only to the “band of rain” stagnant over Metro Detroit, but also the fast accumulation of rain underneath the clouds, Pollman said.

Cities that might experience widespread flooding include Warren, Livonia, Troy, Southfield, St. Clair Shores, the Grosse Pointes, Royal Oak, Wyandotte, Dearborn and other cities, including Detroit.

In Grosse Pointe Park, officials urged residents to drive carefully and monitor their basements.

“With the amount of rain, there is an expectation that homes and basements could see possible flooding,” officials said in a news release Thursday.

Patterson and Windmill Pointe Parks were closed Thursday because of heavy flooding, officials said. Activities were canceled at Lavins Center.

Some of the worst flooding on Thursday was on northbound Lodge near Cobo Center in Detroit after nearly 12 feet of water flooded the freeway under an overpass. The ramps to the Lodge at Jefferson and Congress were closed through the morning and reopened during the afternoon.

Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw said police had to rescue three drivers from the flood in that area.

No one was injured.

“We have been busy all day, and we called extra troopers in to handle some of the crashes that we have had,” Shaw said. “Just a reminder to people that when you come up on impounded water like this you can never tell how deep it is.”

In Detroit, the Fire Department conducted nine rescues in response to flooding, officials said.

The city of Detroit said its Water and Sewerage Department, in coordination with other departments, responded to the severe flash flooding across the region. By Thursday evening, city crews had cleared more than 275 flooded street drains.

“DWSD along with crews from the departments of Public Works and General Services, will be in neighborhoods throughout the day clearing catch basins and removing debris to reduce street flooding,” the city said in a statement earlier Thursday.

A DWSD spokeswoman Thursday reported at least one complaint of sewage backup on the city’s west side. DWSD customers who experience them are encouraged to file a property claim within 45 days of discovering the incident. The water department is already reviewing more than 1,000 claims filed over July and August rain events.

Streets throughout Hamtramck were so flooded, a kayak may have been the best way to travel.

On Evaline, between Jos. Campau and Brombach, flooded water covered the tops of car tires parked on the street, and spread onto the sidewalk, inching up over lawns and onto the first steps of porches.

Basements flooded and residents ventured onto their porches to take photos of the massive flooding.

Lisa Krawczyk, who lives on Holbrook, one of the main streets, said the streets resembled a river.

“Every time it rains, it gets like this, and something should have been done about it a long time ago,” she said. “Further down on Holbrook, it was flooded like a river and inside a home on Commor (several blocks away), the water in the basement would have come up to my knees if I had gone down there.”

Roslyn and other side streets that run parallel to it in the area near Harper and Vernier in Grosse Pointe Woods still had spots where the pavement was underneath inches of standing water Thursday afternoon.

“This street floods every time there’s a big rain,” said Leon Brown, 51, at his home on Roslyn. “Usually, someone will come out and unplug the storm drain in the street and the water goes down.”

The flooded section of the street wasn’t much of an obstacle for his Hummer sport utility vehicle.

“I still have to go slow because I don’t want too much water to get in under it,” said Brown, who retrieved some lunch before heading out to work. “You go too fast through a puddle, and it’ll shoot water up under there and the truck will shut off.”

Amy Kanakri, 26, of Royal Oak also drove through the flooded part of Rosyln early Thursday afternoon. She carefully navigated her Toyota Camry through standing water and then pulled into the driveway of the home where a cousin lives.

“I came from the Nine Mile and Kelly area of Eastpointe,” she said. “The roads weren’t bad.”

But then she said she saw the puddle over Rosyln.

“I was a little worried driving through it,” Kanakri said. “I was thinking maybe I should have come the other way down the street. You worry because you never know how deep it gets, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.”

On Saturday, when the No. 4-ranked Michigan football team hosts No. 8 Wisconsin at 3:30 p.m. in Ann Arbor, there will be a 60 percent chance of showers. Heavy rain is not expected, Pollman said.

Highs are expected in the upper 60s, and the low could reach about 55 degrees.

Staff writers Mark Hicks, Candice Williams, and Holly Fournier contributed.

Extended forecast

Thursday night: Periods of showers. Low around 57. Breezy, with an east northeast wind 16 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent. New precipitation amounts between a half- and three quarters of an inch possible.

Friday: Periods of showers. High near 65. East wind around 17 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent. New precipitation amounts between a quarter- and half-inch possible.

Friday night: Showers likely. Cloudy, with a low around 58. East northeast wind 13 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent. New precipitation amounts between one-tenth and quarter-inch possible.

Saturday: Showers likely, mainly after 2pm. Cloudy, with a high near 69. East southeast wind around 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Saturday night: Showers likely, mainly before 8pm. Cloudy, with a low around 56. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.

Sunday: Scattered showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 69. Chance of precipitation is 50 percent.

Sunday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 55.

Monday: Partly sunny, with a high near 69.

Monday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 55.

Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 71.

Tuesday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 56.

Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 72.

Source: National Weather Service