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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Obama’s Intercession Sought in Flint, Mich.

DETROIT (CN) - With no end in sight to Flint's contaminated-water crisis, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder requested that President Barack Obama declare a federal emergency in the area.

In an overnight news release on Thursday, Snyder said his office is taking action to protect the residents of Flint, many who claim to have developed illness already from lead in the water.

Snyder's statement suggests that possible help from the U.S. government would include temporary housing as well as low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses. The federal aid could also help repair the public infrastructures. Some reports estimated it would take more than $1.5 billion to repair the city.

"We are utilizing all state resources to ensure Flint residents have access to clean and safe drinking water, and today I am asking President Obama to provide additional resources as our recovery efforts continue," Snyder said in a statement.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will advise President Obama to make a decision after it reviews the request, Snyder's office said.

Snyder's request, just days after summoning the National Guard, follows reports linking an uptick in Legionnaire's disease in the Flint area to the city's switching of its drinking-water supply from Lake Huron to the notoriously polluted Flint River in 2014.

Though there is no definitive connection between the disease and the water, Michigan is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Environmental Protection Agency to determine the cause.

Ten people have died from the disease since the spring of 2014.

U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, called for congressional hearings to investigate the situation.

Snyder has endured heavy criticism for his initial slow reaction to the growing problem but said he as welcomed investigations on the federal as well as local levels to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Lawsuits have been streaming in for months. One filed just last week in Genesee County Circuit Court, led by plaintiff Doris Collins, says Flint residents are still being billed for undrinkable water.

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