As the water crisis in Flint, Michigan continues to rise, President Barack Obama on Saturday declared a federal emergency, freeing up to $5 million in federal aid, while denying Gov. Rick Snyder’s request for a disaster declaration.
A disaster declaration would have made larger amounts of federal funding available more quickly to help Flint residents whose drinking water is contaminated with lead. But under federal law, only natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods are eligible for disaster declarations, federal and state officials said. The lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water is a man-made catastrophe.
The president’s actions authorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate responses and cover 75% of the costs for much-needed water, filters, filter cartridges and other items for residents, capped initially at $5 million. The president also offered assistance in finding other available federal assistance, a news release Saturday from the White House said.
Unless you’re living under a rock, you should know that Flint, Michigan is in the midst of one of the worst water supply crises in American history.
Back in April 2014, to save money, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder switched the water supply from Detroit water system to the Flint River, a body of water known to have copious amounts of trash, pollution and iron, reported CNN. And despite residents complaining for the past 18 months that something was “funny” about the water, officials assured them that everything was fine, offering them water filters to relieve their anxiety.
Meanwhile, the good people of Flint were forced to drink and bathe in contaminated water, water that even General Motors refused to wash car parts in “because it was damaging their machines,” Ebony noted.
During this time, there have been numerous reports of hair loss, thousands exposed to dangerous toxins and a whopping 9,000 children diagnosed with lead poisoning. And while the water was switched back in October of 2015, Flint residents continue to stand up and speak out, most notably filing a class-action lawsuit against Gov. Snyder and the State of Michigan.
But they’re not done.
Recently, residents went to social media to show the rest of America just how horrible the water supply really is.
This is what officials told residents “not to worry about,” Mic notes.
Could you imagine having this come out of your faucet?
And while this entire situation is inhumane and appalling, when you look at the demographics of this city, it’s not all surprising. Located nearly 60 miles north of Detroit, Flint’s residents are 57 percent African-American with 40 percent of the town living below the poverty line.