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Flooding cuts off access to parts of Detroit airport, triggers water rescues along inundated Ohio roads

Jul 25, 2023

Severe thunderstorms in the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes region led to numerous reports of flooding overnight with flooding stranding drivers on an Ohio interstate and water rescues in northeastern Ohio.

Severe weather pushed through the Great Lakes region and Ohio Valley overnight into early Thursday morning, leading to numerous reports of flooding and water rescues as well as power outages across the region as the area braces for a second round of severe weather Thursday night.

Several cars are seen submerged in floodwaters on Interstate 90 in Lakewood, Ohio.

(Lakewood Firefighters Local 382/Facebook)

Heavy rain that moved through the area led to flooding on Interstate 90 in Lakewood, Ohio, where boats were needed to rescue stranded drivers.

Photos posted to social media show several vehicles submerged on a flooded roadway, with first responders standing by to help those unable to get out of the floodwaters.

According to Lakewood Firefighters Local 382, all of Lakewood Fire and surrounding Westshore departments were working both directions of I-90 due to flooding.

A car is seen stranded in floodwaters in Parma, Ohio.

(Parma Fire Department/Facebook)

Residents and drivers were also rescued in Parma, Ohio, after flash flooding.

Photos showed first responders bringing stranded residents to safety after several feet of water covered roads there.

In a Facebook post, the Parma Fire Department said flooding was ongoing Wednesday night and warned residents only a few inches of water could be enough to disable vehicles and knock someone off their feet.

Video shows first responders rescuing drivers and residents after flash flooding was reported in Parma, Ohio on Wednesday night.

To the north in Michigan, there were several reports of flooded roadways and power outages from severe weather.

As of late Thursday morning, nearly 60,000 power outages were reported in Michigan, and nearly 40,000 outages were reported in Ohio.

The Michigan Department of Transportation said on X, formerly Twitter, that widespread flooding was reported because tributaries were too swollen to take in any new water. Major roads flooded in the Detroit area included interstates 75, 94 and 275.

Water is seen covering the roadway in metro Detroit.


The flooding also led to issues at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) on Thursday morning. Detroit received 3 inches of rain in about six hours on Thursday morning.

Airport officials warned travelers to call ahead to check their flight status before heading to the airport because flooding has restricted access to the McNamara Terminal.

Officials said travelers were unable to access the terminal because flooding was reported in the Dingell Drive tunnels.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a ground stop at DTW because of thunderstorms in the area that was expected to remain in effect until 11 a.m. EDT.

By early Thursday afternoon, airport officials said the floodwater had receded "significantly" in the South Tunnel to the McNamara Tunnel. Soon after, they announced that access to the McNamara Terminal had been restored.

According to a report from FOX 2 in Detroit, dive teams were in Walled Lake searching for a swimmer who went missing during the storm. The Oakland County Sheriff's Office said the man was on a pontoon boat while he and two others went swimming. When it started storming, the two other people were able to get out of the water, but the man disappeared. The search was called off due to the weather Wednesday night but resumed on Thursday morning, according to FOX 2.

The area is under a similar severe weather threat later Thursday. However, the FOX Forecast Center says there will be a lull in the action before it picks back up later in the day.

"Those storms are rumbling through the Ohio Valley, dying down," FOX Weather meteorologist Amy Freeze said. "In fact, the showers weaken. It turns rather quiet in the afternoon. Don’t let your guard down. After sunset, the storms fire back up."

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has Cleveland and Detroit back in a Level 3 out of 5 for Thursday night on their severe weather risk scale. Aside from heavy rain and large hail, wind gusts could reach as high as 75 mph as thunderstorms sweep through.

Published FOX Weather (Lakewood Firefighters Local 382/Facebook) (Parma Fire Department/Facebook) (MichiganDOT/X)