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Copper Theft A Possible Factor In Metro Detroit Freeway Flooding

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Abandoned cars are completely under water on I-696. (Credit: Bill Szumanski/WWJ Newsradio 950)

Abandoned cars are completely under water on I-696. (Credit: Bill Szumanski/WWJ Newsradio 950)

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Scrap metal thieves are adding to the delays in getting water cleared from flooded roads.

Officials say copper piping stolen from pumping stations used to clear water from the freeways might have been a contributing factor in this week’s major highway flooding.

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.

Cross said it could be several days before all freeways are reopened.

“It really is an extremely rare situation, but we’re working the best we can to get the roads open,” she said.

Copper theft for sale as scrap is a longstanding area problem, with it being blamed for many streetlight outages.

The state says aging infrastructure and pumps that were overwhelmed by the rainfall are also major factors in the flooding. A final determination isn’t expected to be made until after the mud, trash, abandoned vehicles and other debris gets cleared.

MORE: Metro Detroit Freeways Still Closed After Floods

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