Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has met with top White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and will meet with President Obama shortly, the administration says:
Obama declared the city’s lead-poisoning drinking water crisis a federal emergency on Saturday, releasing $5 million in relief funding. As the Detroit News reports, though, Michigan officials would like the feds to unlock more money by officially labeling the situation a “disaster,” which the Federal Emergency Management Agency has so far said it will not do:
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate, in a letter to Snyder, said his request for a major disaster declaration was denied because the water contamination “does not meet the legal definition of a ‘major disaster’” under federal law.
“The incident was not the result of a natural catastrophe, nor was it created by a fire, flood or explosion,” Fugate said.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has requested a total of $96 million from the federal government to distribute clean water and water filters and to help repair/replace the lead pipes that began leaching into Flint’s drinking water after the city began using corrosive Flint River water in April 2014. Snyder is appealing the FEMA “disaster” ruling and Weaver is in Washington, D.C., to advocate for further allocation of federal money.
Weaver became Flint’s mayor in November 2015 shortly after independent studies confirmed local residents’ suspicions that the 2014 water source change was causing health problems. From 2011 until April 2015, however, the city’s government was ultimately controlled by a Snyder appointee who held power via Michigan’s “emergency manager” law, which applies to municipalities that are in fiscal crisis.*
*Correction, Jan. 21, 2016: This post originally stated in error that Flint is still controlled by an emergency manager.