WARREN, Mich. – The body of a 100-year-old suburban Detroit woman was found in her flooded condominium basement Tuesday, a day after heavy rain swamped much of the area and stranded motorists on water-clogged streets and freeways.
The woman's daughter was concerned about her welfare and went to the home to check on her, said Warren Mayor James Fouts.
Fouts said the woman appears to have drowned. A cause of death was not immediately available, and Fouts did not release the woman's name.
Her death was the second blamed on storms that dumped 5.2 inches of rain on Warren on Monday. A 30-year-old woman suffered seizures and died after her vehicle became trapped in high water.
Roughly 1,000 vehicles had been abandoned in floodwaters in the suburb where many roads were closed.
"This is going to go down as the great flood of 2014," Fouts said.
Fearing more drivers could become stranded 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.
Tiffany Gatewood said Chrysler's Sterling Heights Assembly plant near Warren sent her and other workers home early Monday night. On her way home, Gatewood's Jeep stalled on a flooded entrance ramp to Interstate 696 and she had to swim to safety.
"I've never seen anything like this," the 27-year-old said. "It's like the world is coming to an end."
Warren Fire Chief David Frederick said bystanders pulled a Sterling Heights woman from her car after seeing her suffer seizures. They carried her into a nearby business and called firefighters who waded through chest-deep water to get her to an emergency vehicle. She was pronounced dead at a hospital, Frederick said.
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.
"This was simply a record event of rain," Gov. Rick Snyder said.
"We just need to work through it," Snyder told reporters at Lansing's airport before boarding a state police helicopter to tour the affected areas.
Overcast to drizzly conditions were expected to clear overnight Tuesday, with sunshine over most of southern Michigan on Wednesday, the weather service said. It said three flooded rivers — the Lower Rouge at Inkster, the Rouge at Detroit and the Clinton at Clinton Township — were receding Tuesday night and expected to drop below flood stage soon.
Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano declared a state of emergency and said he asked Snyder to push for federal resources. A state of emergency declaration by Michigan allows a variety of resources to potentially be made available including support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Ficano said in a release.
Fouts also declared a state of emergency for Warren.
"I spoke with Snyder and told him we were in need of help clearing roads of abandoned vehicles and basement flooding," Fouts said. "Now it's time for the state and federal government to give back what we've been giving. Right now, there are thousands of people in Warren who need help."
In the suburb of Royal Oak, the Detroit Zoo was closed 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.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said crews were crisscrossing the city to identify flooded streets that needed clearing after the rain overwhelmed the sewer systems.
Authorities closed portions of Interstates 75, 94, 696 and the Lodge and Southfield freeways Tuesday. 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 other stranded motorists and towed abandoned vehicles. The state Department of Transportation assessed damage to roadways and used front-end loaders to clear mud from some freeways.