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Following Gov. Rick Snyder’s tardy request for a federal declaration of a state of emergency in Flint due to his administration’s poisoning of their drinking water, President Obama moved swiftly to approve it. However, this frees up only $5 million to deal with a $1.5 billion problem:
President Barack Obama on Saturday declared a federal emergency in Flint, freeing up to $5 million in federal aid to immediately assist with the public health crisis, but he denied 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 manmade catastrophe.
More from the White House:
President Obama Signs Michigan Emergency Declaration
The President today, in response to a request from the Governor submitted on January 14, 2016, declared that an emergency exists in the State of Michigan and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions in the area affected by contaminated water.
The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in Genesee County.
Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding. This emergency assistance is to provide water, water filters, water filter cartridges, water test kits, and other necessary related items for a period of no more than 90 days.
Additionally, the President offered assistance in identifying other Federal agency capabilities that could support the recovery effort but do not require an emergency declaration under the Stafford Act.
W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named David G. Samaniego as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.
Both the Detroit Free Press and MLive are calling for Gov. Snyder to release all relevant emails and documents relating to how this catastrophe was allowed to occur so that those responsible can be held accountable.
Meanwhile, facing a rising cacophony of calls to resign over his slow reaction to this human-made disaster, Gov. Snyder said the actions he and his administration have taken are “going beyond reason”:
In response to the intense criticism, Snyder said at a news conference Wednesday: “We’re taking every action within reason, and going beyond reason to address this,” he said. He also said, “This is something you wish that never happened, and let’s see that it never happens again in the state of Michigan.”
“Beyond reason” might be an accurate description if you’re talking about how any reasonable response would have been much earlier and much more vigorous than Snyder’s response has been.
If you are in Michigan on Tuesday, consider joining the protest at the Capitol Building. The event is being organized by a coalition of organizations and is being held in conjunction with Gov. Snyder’s State of the State address that same evening. RSVP and learn more at the event’s Facebook page HERE.
Speakers at the event will include:
- Melissa Mays, Flint resident, founder of Water You Fighting For
- Nayyirah Shariff, Flint resident, Flint Democracy Defense League
- Cindy Estrada, Vice President of the UAW
- Mark Schauer, former MI Congressman and Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate
- Curt Guyette, Investigative Reporter with the ACLU of Michigan
- Cheryl Weston, RN at McLaren Lapeer and Board Member of the Michigan Nurses Association
Check the Facebook page for information on buses running from various communities to Lansing to take people to the rally. In Washtenaw County, the Washtenaw County Democratic Party is working to run a bus to Lansing to take people from our area. Stay tuned for details on that.