By Steve Neavling
Months after Gov. Rick Snyder ignored warnings of dangerous levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water, he is activating the Michigan National Guard to help contain what he conceded Monday was a health “crisis.”
The governor announced Tuesday he is sending about 30 National Guard members to Flint this week to help distribute bottled water and filters and arrange testing for lead exposure.
“As we work to ensure that all Flint residents have access to clean and safe drinking water, we are providing them with the direct assistance they need in order to stretch our resources further,” Snyder said in a press release.
“The Michigan National Guard is trained and ready to assist the citizens of Flint.”
Snyder, who has come under fierce criticism for his handling of the crisis, declared an emergency last week and is appealing to the federal government for help.
The crisis has prompted a U.S. Attorney’s Office investigation.
Police also are investigating whether water documents were stolen from a vacant office in Flint City Hall after a recent break-in.
Elevated lead levels cause numerous health issues, especially in children.
“Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned. “And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected.”
While under state control, Flint switched its water source to save a projected $19 million over eight years. But the water was contaminated with lead and fecal coliform bacteria, which the state downplayed for months.
Now Flint plans to reconnect to Detroit.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.