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Record rainfall and flooding slows production at Detroit automakers

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DETROIT - Record-setting rainfall in the Detroit area has slowed vehicle production, automakers said Tuesday.

Chrysler reopened its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, which makes the Chrysler 200 sedan, on Tuesday afternoon, but had to send workers home because of high absenteeism. The company said flooded roads made it difficult for workers and parts to get to the plant. Chrysler had halted operations at the plant around 9 p.m. Monday because of flooding.

Three other Chrysler plants, in Detroit and in the suburbs of Warren and Sterling Heights, were running but at a slower rate than usual Tuesday evening, the company said.

Flood damage also forced General Motors to close its Tech Center in Warren Tuesday morning. The company told most of the 19,000 engineers, designers and others who work at the 330-acre campus to stay home while facilities are cleaned.

Some employees began returning to the campus Tuesday afternoon and more will be called back Wednesday, GM said. Priority was being placed on operations that directly affect customers, including call centres and OnStar operators.

GM spokesman Bill Grotz said the flooding didn't appear to cause severe damage to the historic campus, which was designed in the early 1950s by architect Eero Saarinen.

GM said production at local plants wasn't affected.

Ford's plants were also operating normally Tuesday. Ford slowed production Monday at four suburban Detroit plants in Dearborn, Wayne and Sterling Heights. Assembly plants in Chicago and Louisville, Kentucky, were also impacted because of flooding at Michigan-based suppliers.

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