Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has called in the National Guard to help hand out bottled water in Flint, where dangerous lead levels have made municipal water unsafe to drink.
National Guard troops could arrive in Flint as soon as Wednesday morning, Snyder spokesman Dave Murray said in an email.
“The support of the National Guard will enable American Red Cross volunteers, who have been staffing the water resource sites since Jan. 9, to join the efforts of the water resource teams going door to door in Flint neighborhoods to distribute bottled water, water filters, replacement cartridges and testing kits,” Murray said.
The water resource sites are places in Flint where residents have been able to pick up bottled water and filters. The governor’s office said Sunday that state troopers would help distribute water door to door.
The water problems started in 2014, when emergency managers appointed by Snyder oversaw the city’s switch to the Flint River as its water source. The state failed to ensure treatment to prevent the new water from corroding the city’s aging pipes, many of which contain lead.
State officials downplayed the risks until a local pediatrician reported elevated lead levels in Flint kids’ blood at the end of September. Lead poisoning can have lifetime consequences for children, including stunted growth and diminished IQs.
Snyder’s response to the water crisis has continuously escalated since October, when the state admitted it had made mistakes that led to high levels of the deadly neurotoxin in Flint’s water. That month, Snyder created a task force to investigate what went wrong, and approved switching the city back to Detroit’s water system. In December, Snyder apologized for the toxic water and accepted resignations of several officials.
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