Dozens of additional National Guard crew members were sent to Flint, Michigan, on Monday to handle the city’s severe water crisis. Governor Rick Snyder faced heat from residents and presidential contenders over his handling of the crisis.
Elevated levels of lead have been found in the blood of local children, something that could potentially cause brain damage. As many as 100 protests carried out a march in front of the governor’s home on Monday demanding for Snyder’s resignation, WXYZ reported. “They’re poisoned. And now, at the very best, they’re going to go through very difficult times to try and get that lead out,” resident Judy Bonnel-Wenzel said.
While Snyder admitted that the crisis is a disaster, he said the critics calling the crisis as his “Katrina” is not fair. “It’s a disaster,” Snyder told CNN. “It’s clearly a negative on what we’ve accomplished since I’ve been governor. And I don’t even describe it as an opportunity. I just want to make sure we’re doing whatever we can to deal with the damage and address the people of Flint in a constructive way.”
Snyder also said he will not be stepping down. “As soon as it came to my attention we started to take serious action. What I’d say is I feel terrible about it, though, and it’s clear that changes needed to be made in my administration and I think long-term, there are things that need to be improved,” he said. “I want to solve this problem. I don’t want to walk away from it.”
The guardsmen were handing out bottled water, filters and testing kits to the worst affected neighborhoods in the city. Troops started arriving in the city over the weekend. President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency was ordered to help address the issue.
In 2014, the water source of the city was switched temporarily from Lake Huron to the Flint River, as reported by CNN. This was viewed as a cost-saving measure until a new line to Lake Huron was prepared. After the change, residents started complaining that their water looked and smelled unusual.
The water was found to be highly corrosive. As several service lines to Flint are made up of lead, the harmful element was found in the water going into the homes. In October, while the water source was restored to Lake Huron, much of the damage had already been caused. Filters and bottled water are being handed out to the residents of the city.
Shayne Hodges had bought his home shortly before the crisis. He said he and his three kids utilize two cases of water each day, NBC News reports. “Not knowing what’s going on and when we’re going to be fixed — I bought my home here, so I’m trapped, basically. That’s how I feel,” he said.