(TNS) – Michigan State Police troopers and other state officials will start a door-to-door sweep of Flint on Tuesday to hand out bottled water and water filters, and the White House says it is monitoring the situation “very closely.”
The move, announced by the state Sunday, is intended to help address the ongoing water crisis in the city. Flint’s drinking water was contaminated with lead, and an unknown number of children were poisoned while the city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager in 2014 and 2015. The emergency manager, to cut costs, switched Flint’s water supply source from Lake Huron, supplied by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, to the more polluted and corrosive Flint River.
The door-to-door distribution follows an announcement Saturday that water would be available free at fire stations throughout the city.
The state said that if no one is at home during door-to-door visits, a flyer with information on how to get free water resources will be left.
The announcement came as the White House said Sunday during “Meet the Press” that it was monitoring the situation as part of a discussion on growing mistrust in government. The chief of staff to President Barack Obama said the White House is watching the Flint situation “very closely.”
The discussion on the NBC News program hosted by Chuck Todd is the latest example of national media attention given to the crisis. The Flint public health emergency has also been featured prominently in the New York Times and on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show.”
The ongoing controversy in Flint also drew the attention of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is traveling to Detroit for a fundraiser on Tuesday. She said Sunday evening that no parent should have to worry whether the water they and their kids are drinking is safe.
“Thousands of children may have been exposed to lead, which could irreversibly harm their health and brain functioning. Plus the catastrophe – which was caused by a zeal to save money at all costs – could actually cost $1.5 billion in infrastructure costs,” Clinton, the former First Lady and Secretary of State, said in a statement.
Three liaison officers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are in Michigan assisting state officials after Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in the crisis Tuesday. The state asked for the help, but Snyder has not yet made a request through FEMA for federal financial aid, an official said Saturday.
On Sunday, Snyder spokesman Dave Murray said once the initial response phase is over, state officials will work with the federal government on what additional resources may be available.
Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, would not give a direct answer when Todd asked whether FEMA was going to intervene further.
The administration is “obviously very concerned about it, but I don’t have any news to make with you on that today,” McDonough said.
“We’re watching it very closely, but nobody has asked us anything yet.”
During a panel discussion, Todd said Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman and reality TV star who has been the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination “talks about distrust in political leaders.”
“And what do we have in Michigan?” he asked. “This Flint, Mich., where clearly the governor’s office — someone in the governor’s office — was too passive about it.”
Todd said Snyder, like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is under fire over failures of the police department, is not seen as overly partisan.
“They’re not ideological warriors, they’re technocrats who we thought, at a minimum, were the competent guys,” Todd said.
Panelist Helene Cooper of the New York Times said water is “so basic” that the Flint catastrophe “really feeds to this distrust people have.”
“This is from — this is not a third world country,” she said.
Residents with questions or who need to obtain water or other supplies should call 2-1-1.
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660, email@example.com or on Twitter @paulegan4. Staff writer Kathleen Gray contributed to this report.
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