US President Barack Obama has signed a decree declaring a state of emergency in the city of Flint (Michigan), which gives the city the right to receive federal aid in connection with the drinking water crisis.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will provide direct assistance. This agency will deliver drinking water, filters and other water purification devices to the city.
The 99,000-student city of Flint can directly receive about $5 million in aid, but the state must in turn provide about $1.25 million more. In addition, the city may receive more funds through Congress.
According to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Obama has declined to declare a disaster.
Drinking water in Flint residents’ pipes became contaminated back in April 2014, after city officials changed the water system due to the reconstruction of pipes leading into Lake Huron. Instead, water began flowing into the city from the Flint River, and residents immediately complained about its strange odor and taste. The population was ordered to boil the water before use, and the General Motors plant stopped using it altogether, claiming it was ruining equipment.
After some time, it was discovered that local children had elevated levels of lead in their bodies, and city officials returned to the old water system. However, experts suspect that the old pipes may still be dangerous and still continue to poison the water with lead.
Children are at risk of developmental problems, including behavioral disorders, and adults can develop kidney problems.