The Slatest

National Guard Activated to Distribute Water as Flint Lead Poisoning Crisis Continues

The Flint River in downtown Flint, Michigan, on Dec. 16, 2015.

Photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has activated members of the state’s National Guard and requested Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance to deal with the city’s ongoing drinking water crisis. From the Detroit Free Press:

Members of the National Guard are expected to staff fire stations and distribute bottles of water and water filters, freeing members of the American Red Cross to handle the door-to-door distribution of those items, Snyder Chief of Staff Jarrod Agen said. There were no immediate plans to use tanker trucks to distribute water, he said.


The deployment will at least initially be a modest one, with 30 members of the guard expected in the city by Friday.

Flint began using the Flint River as a water source in 2014 to save money only to find that water from the long-polluted river was causing a number of health problems, including lead poisoning in children. (The state and the city both claimed Flint water was safe well after problems became apparent.) The river is no longer being used as a source, but problems with drinking water persist and a number of organizations have begun distributing bottled water to residents.

FEMA says it has appointed a “federal disaster recovery coordinator” to help deal with the situation.

Snyder, a Republican, has a current approval rating of 38 percent, though that number is not down significantly from polls taken before the crisis became a major story in the latter part of 2015.