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Southfield Freeway reopens after flooding; gov declares emergency

A day after historic rains left thousands of homes damaged by flooding, the governor declared a state of emergency in Wayne County on Thursday night; shortly after, the Southfield Freeway reopened after rainfall caused 14 feet of water to spill onto the road.

Another round of showers entering  region through early Friday raised worries about recovery efforts stalling.

"It won't take much to aggravate what’s happened," said Bryan Tilley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service station in White Lake Township.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's declaration makes available state resources that will coordinate with local response and recovery efforts. It authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division to coordinate state efforts beyond what those agencies were already doing, according to a news release by the Governor's Office on Thursday night.

The action came just hours after Wayne County Executive Warren Evans declared a state of emergency after some 3,000 homeowners were affected by the flooding. He asked Whitmer to do the same on the state level.

“With thousands of homes flooded or damaged, we don’t have the resources locally to deal with this amount of damage, and thousands of our residents are going to need help," Evans said in a statement. “There was just too much rain, in too short of time, given already elevated water levels in many bodies of water, like the Ecorse Creek."

Meanwhile, a flood watch was in effect  for part  of southeast Michigan, including Lenawee, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties, through 10 a.m. Friday

Less than an inch of rain was forecast in most places, with the heaviest expected before 4 a.m., Tilley said. But after the area saw 1-3 inches since Tuesday, flooding is possible in some spots.

The weather service also issued a flood warning for the River Raisin, which was nearing flood stage in Monroe on Thursday night.

Hours after 12 feet of water covered Southfield Freeway near Outer Drive, all lanes in both directions reopened at about 11 p.m., Michigan State Police reported.

The road had been closed as the Michigan Department of Transportation worked to clear the deluge near the aging pump station at Outer Drive.

The Southfield Freeway at Outer Drive remains closed as crews try to pump out water on Thursday, May 2, 2019.

Earlier Thursday, some streets in Dearborn Heights overflowed with high water, and homes were damaged in Allen Park and Detroit, where volunteers packed sandbags and the Red Cross delivered clean-up kits, Michigan State Police reported on Twitter. 

Stephanie Lugo, who lives in Allen Park, faced a dire scene as she left for work early Thursday.

"I had to wear knee-high rain boots and had to walk through the water," the 19-year-old said.

A boy splashes through flood waters at his home along Eaton Avenue in Dearborn Heights as ruined family belongings damaged by flood water are piled at the curb on May 2, 2019. M

The rain should push east before noon Friday and leave clearer conditions for the weekend, Tilley said.

Highs could reach the upper 50s, slightly below average for the date, then drop into the 40s at night.

The mercury is set to climb into the low 60s on Saturday under mostly cloudy skies. Sunday's temperatures could top out near 70.

Extended forecast

Friday: Sunshine with clouds; high 60, low 44.

Saturday: Sunshine with clouds; high 60, low 43.

Sunday: Sunny;, high 70, low 48.

Monday: Showers possible; high 69, low 50.

Tuesday: Rain and drizzle; high 73, low 57.