Following up on the crisis in Flint, Mich., which we’ve been following closely, the Detroit Free Press reports that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) activated the National Guard last night. Guard members, the report noted, “are expected to staff fire stations and distribute bottles of water and water filters, freeing members of the American Red Cross to handle the door-to-door distribution of those items.”
And that’s not all.
Snyder also on Tuesday asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate responses to the Flint crisis by other federal agencies.“This request will identify federal agencies that have programs, authorities and/or technical expertise that could be utilized in the ongoing response and recovery efforts in Flint to be made available,” according to a statement issued by the governor’s office.“Such federal agencies may include the Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Army Corps of Engineers.”
So far, there’s been no public explanation as to why these steps weren’t taken sooner.
On a related note, the Free Press reported earlier this week that Flint residents are still receiving water bills, which they’re expected to pay, despite the fact that the water is unsafe.
In other words, we’re looking at a situation in which the state is literally adding insult to injury.
The newspaper’s editorial board published a sensible piece on the subject this morning, explaining how completely crazy it is to charge Flint residents for water they can’t drink.
This would seem to go without saying, but in the madness of the Flint water crisis, even the most obvious points need explication: Residents of Flint should not be billed for the contaminated water that flowed into their homes for months while the city used the Flint River as a source. […]On the long list of things that state officials should move swiftly to correct in Flint, the wiping away of this particular injustice in the city’s water crisis ought to rank near the top. Reimbursing Flint residents for the money they’ve paid for poison water just needs to be part of the massive bill the state tallies for its own negligence in this crisis.
I saw someone joke this morning, “Has Gov. Snyder appointed an emergency manager to oversee his office yet?” It struck me as a reasonable question.