Following a request from Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder that the president declare a federal emergency in Flint over an ongoing and dangerous water crisis, Barack Obama on Saturday announced an emergency declaration that would allocate $5 million in federal aid to assist the city, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The announcement comes after the National Guard was deployed in the city to deliver bottled water door-to-door. Obama has “ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions in the area affected by contaminated water,” a White House release states.
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.
The ongoing water crisis has left thousands of households without safe drinking water. In a cost-cutting effort, the city switched its water supply source from Lake Huron (treated by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department) to Flint River water, a contaminated source that initiated the ongoing scandal.
In a news release on Saturday, Gov. Snyder — fresh from requesting federal aid — said he appreciates the White House’s intervention.
“I have pledged to use all state resources possible to help heal Flint, and these additional resources will greatly assist in efforts under way to ensure every resident has access to clean water resources,” he said.