ClawsonAugust 12, 2014
Rainfall floods roads, highways in Royal Oak and Clawson
By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer
According to the National Weather Service, southeast Oakland County received 6 inches of rain Aug. 11, which overwhelmed the stormwater systems in Royal Oak, Clawson and other municipalities throughout metro Detroit.
Sara Schultz, a meteorologist from the NWS White Lake Office, said the National Weather Service keeps track of historical weather records out of three airports throughout southeast Michigan: Detroit Metro Airport, Bishop International Airport in Flint and MBS International Airport outside of Saginaw. All three recorded record rainfall on Aug. 11.
Yet the storm system itself was nothing significant.
“It was just a regular low-pressure system that moved through,” she said. “It just happened to be very moist.”
The storm was near Toledo at about noon and then moved north to metro Detroit and did not stop dumping rain for six hours, which inundated the stormwater systems throughout the region.
“Everything could not keep up,” Schultz said.
Michigan State Police sent out an advisory telling drivers to stay off the roads, and floodwaters made reaching residents difficult for emergency personnel, who responded to a significant increase in calls for assistance.
Clawson Police Chief Harry Anderson said officers got help reaching houses from the Fire Department and the Department of Public Works.
“Our biggest problem last night was our guys getting to the calls — because of the floods,” Anderson said. “So that’s when you need a little bigger of a vehicle.”
On a typical day, Clawson police respond to 15 calls for service. On Aug. 11, the department fielded 26 calls, 14 of which were for road hazards and four for property damage crashes.
Anderson said there were no significant injuries.
In Royal Oak, police reported that they received 500 calls in reference to basement flooding and officers impounded up to 35 vehicles that were left abandoned on roadways and that posed hazards, according to the city.
A significant number of those were left at railroad viaducts.
The Royal Oak Fire Department had to have three fire trucks towed after driving through large pools of water. The Police Department had one vehicle towed.
“They expect (all of the vehicles) to be up and running again,” said Judy Davids, the city’s community engagement specialist.
According to the city, the heavy rainfall caused significant damage to southbound Stephenson Highway along Interstate 75 at Dallas Avenue.
Davids said the embankment gave way and slid down to the highway’s already flooded surface, damaging a pump station that is designed to pull water off the expressway.
“When the embankment eroded, it took the pump station with it,” she said, adding that the portion of Stephenson will have to be replaced. Further, the embankment would have to be stabilized before southbound I-75 can be reopened.
As of Aug. 12, I-75 near the damaged portion of Stephenson was still closed.