The National Guard has been deployed to help distribute water bottles following the lead contamination of Flint, Michigan’s drinking water.
ABC News reports Gov. Rick Snyder announced the National Guard’s presence on Tuesday following months of up to 30,000 households living without clean drinking water. A public health emergency was declared in October after tests showed elevated levels of lead in children.
The city switched their water supply in 2014 from Lake Huron to the Flint River in order to save money. The corrosion of the water was never dealt with and was later released into the city’s aging pipes for public consumption.
Residents in Flint have been ordered to drink bottled water and were given filters and devices to test the lead in their homes. The National Guard is expected to arrive and help disperse more supplies to residents on Wednesday. From there, the American Red Cross will engage in door-to-door-style assistance.
The city has since returned to the Detroit-based water system, but with the damage already done to pipes, lead remains the number one problem. Uproar over the city’s sacrifice of funds as opposed to the lives of its residents soon followed, causing the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant to resign in December. The MDEQ denied any traces of lead in the water, even after several cases were reported.
Politicians have also spoken out on the crisis.
ABC News reports:
“I trust the good men and women of the National Guard will jumpstart the Snyder administration’s lackluster response to this public health crisis,” Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said in a statement. “Sadly, myself and many leaders of my community have advocated for this type of response for months.”
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat who represents the Flint area, said: “It is the state’s ultimate responsibility to act and make it right. Flint residents are the victims in this crisis and they deserve a more urgent response equal to the gravity of this crisis.”
The Department of Justice is investigating the matter alongside the governor’s office. The Environmental Protection Agency also opened an investigation into Flint’s water crisis in November.
Lead can act as form of poison in young children, slowing down mental capabilities and increasing health issues. Because lead targets the bones, it gets in the way of the effective production of blood cells and absorbs calcium. Long term effects also include lower IQs and stunted growth.