Metal theft a possible factor in major Detroit flooding


  • Photo via Laura Czupinski, Metro Times

Reports today suggested copper thieves played a role in this week's rampant flooding of Detroit-area highways, but the state says that's only one of a "long list" of potential culprits. That state is investigating what caused the widespread problems, and it may be weeks until the contributing factors are identified. 

The torrential downpour dumped 4 to 6 inches across metro Detroit communities, causing dozens to ditch their submerged cars and what reportedly appears to be two deaths. It was an absolute mess

WWJ 950 reported this morning: "Scrap metal thieves are adding to the delays in getting water cleared from flooded roads," and that Michigan Department of Transportation spokeswoman Diane cross "said the copper piping had been stolen from several pumping stations — but MDOT didn’t know about the thefts until going in to pump the water after Monday’s torrential storms."

But that may be a bit of presumptuous conclusion, Cross says.

"It was an item on a long list of POSSIBLE reasons why power might not work in a pump station," Cross says in an email. "Items that have been quoted to me are not quite correct." Still, scrappers for years have caused a number of problems across metro Detroit. 

Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer called on Republican Gov. Rick Snyder to declare a financial emergency and seek federal financial assistance.

“Michigan motorists, homeowners and businesses need swift action to repair the damage from this week’s historic floods," Schauer said in a statement. "The response by our local first responders and state troopers has been truly admirable, but now it is time for the State of Michigan to declare a state of emergency and immediately request federal disaster assistance."

A number of municipalities declared a state of emergency Tuesday, the Detroit Free Press reports, and called on Snyder to follow suit. Snyder's office said it wouldn't make a decision on the request until the entire scope of metro Detroit's damage is fully understood.

“They didn’t ask for any specific resources,” Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wufel told the Freep. “And we’re trying to identify ways we can assist them right away.”

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