(FLINT, Mich.) — Michigan State Police began delivering clean and safe water door-to-door in Flint Tuesday after Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency for Genesee County a week ago.
The state action comes after Flint issued its own state of emergency last month because of a change in the city’s water source that has exposed children to potentially dangerous levels of lead, officials say.
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has called the crisis a “man-made disaster caused by the city switching to the Flint River as a water source.”
Snyder requested support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to “coordinate an interagency recovery plan with other federal agencies to provide resources to Flint.”
According to the governor’s office, “this request will identify federal agencies that have programs, authorities, and/or technical expertise that could be utilized in the ongoing response and recovery efforts in Flint to be made available. Such federal agencies may include the Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Army Corps of Engineers.”
Meanwhile, water resource teams, including Michigan state police and other state personnel, started distributing bottled water, water filters, replacement cartridges, and testing kits to residents. There are also sites where residents can pick up clean donated water.
“We recognize the urgency of getting water resources to the residents of Flint,” Capt. Chris Kelenske, deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, said in a statement Monday. “To help ensure the necessary resources continue to be available at the water resource sites, the state is expanding their partnership with the American Red Cross to utilize their warehousing and inventory management capabilities for stored water resources.”
The trouble began in 2014 when the city disconnected from Detroit’s water supply and began drawing its water from the Flint River. It was intended as a stop-gap measure until the completion of a pipeline to Port Huron Lake as the source for Flint’s water.
But the river water wasn’t treated properly, a state spokeswoman told ABC News in an earlier interview, so it drew lead from the pipes into the water supply.
“This switch has resulted in elevated lead levels in drinking water, which prompted both the city and the County Health Department to issue a health advisory earlier this year,” the mayor’s office said in a statement last year.
The city switched back to the Detroit water supply last year, but the lead levels remain higher than acceptable because the chemicals used to treat the water have not fully stopped the water from leaching lead from the pipes, a state spokeswoman told ABC News last month.
City and state officials have come under fire from residents for the perceived slow response to the water supply crisis. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan, said the effects of the crisis could show up decades later.
“We see the consequences of lead poisoning a lot later,” Hanna-Attisha, told ABC News last month. “In five years we’re going to see kids with developmental delays and will have to be in special ed; in 15 years they’ll have problems with behaving.”
Gov. Synder Monday announced the creation of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee, aimed at developing solutions for long-term problems associated with the water crisis.
“We need to focus on improving Flint for the longer term,” Snyder said in a statement. “This committee, made up of experts from government and the Flint community, will set a course of action to remedy the water situation and resulting health issues, and carry on long after the emergency declaration expires.”
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