Snyder declares disaster, last expressway reopens

DETROIT (AP) – Gov. Rick Snyder issued a disaster declaration Wednesday for three Detroit-area counties struggling to recover from widespread flooding caused by heavy rainfall two days earlier.

Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation also were reaching out to make sure all federal, state and local resources are available for the hardest-hit communities in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, Snyder said.

The disaster declaration “gives us the opportunity to look to the federal government to how we can apply for assistance and frees up state resources … money to help with manpower,” Snyder told The Associated Press on Wednesday by phone from Menominee in the Upper Peninsula.

The storms dumped more than 6 inches of rain in places, flooding surface streets and many basements. Some manhole covers and sewer grates were pushed up and out of place.

Cars and other vehicles stalled out and became stranded in rising waters on interstates, highways and residential streets. Stretches of freeways were closed through all of Tuesday and Wednesday morning as the water slowly drained or was pumped away. Highway crews used heavy equipment to remove mud that cascaded down from embankments.

On Wednesday evening, authorities finally allowed traffic back on the region’s last flooded stretch of expressway, northbound Interstate 75 just south of the I-696 interchange in the northern Detroit suburb of Hazel Park. Several other expressway segments also returned to service Wednesday.

Two deaths in the Detroit suburb of Warren have been blamed on Monday’s storms.