Michigan governor urges FEMA to reconsider denial of funds for Flint

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 03, 2016 1:15 PM

(Reuters) - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has urged federal officials to reconsider their denial for funds to help deal with the fallout from the lead-contaminated water in the city of Flint, his office said on Thursday.

The contamination and the state's long delay in addressing the problem have sparked outrage and drawn attention from U.S. presidential candidates.

In the latest appeal to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Snyder is requesting money that would pay for food, water and other essential needs; the removal of health and safety hazards; activation of emergency operations centers; measures to avoid further damage; and homeowners' repairs not covered by insurance.

The agency turned down an earlier request for financial help in January but has provided non-monetary support in the form of a FEMA coordinator.

Also in January, Snyder asked for federal declarations of emergency and major disaster. President Barack Obama approved the federal emergency declaration, but denied a major disaster declaration. Snyder appealed that decision and was denied.

Snyder said on Thursday that Flint needed continued local, state, federal and national efforts. "Assistance from our federal partners could go a long way in moving Flint forward," he said.

Activists and some Democratic state lawmakers have demanded that Snyder resign, but a spokesman said the Republican governor had no intention of stepping down.

Snyder is scheduled to testify before a U.S. congressional committee on March 17.

Flint, a predominantly black city of 100,000 about 60 miles (100 km) northwest of Detroit, was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager when it switched the source of its tap water from Detroit's system to the Flint River in April 2014.

The city switched back to Detroit water last October after tests found high levels of lead in blood samples taken from children.

The water from the Flint River, which was more corrosive than Detroit's, leached more of the toxic agent, which can damage the nervous system, from the city's pipes.

Experts have said it could take some time for anti-corrosive chemicals now being added to the water to re-coat pipes so that they will not leach lead into the water.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Ben Klayman and Lisa Von Ahn)