HHS team to help coordinate emergency recovery efforts in Flint
The Obama administration has tapped HHS to help lead the federal coordination of emergency recovery efforts to deal with contaminated water in Flint, Mich., the agency announced last week.
President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency but not a major disaster in Flint. That determination frees $5 million in immediate aid with the possibility of more assistance, for which the president would need to alert Congress.
HHS is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has been helping Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration coordinate with other federal agencies.
“The goal of the federal response will be to help state and local leaders identify the size and scope of the problem, and work with them to make and execute a plan for mitigation of the short- and long-term health effects of lead exposure,” department Deputy Secretary Mary Wakefield said. An HHS team was expected last week in Flint.
Flint’s water has had elevated levels of lead after corrosive Flint River water caused lead connections to leech into the city’s drinking water. In mid-October, Flint switched back to Detroit’s system of using Lake Huron for drinking water, but state officials still consider Flint’s drinking water unsafe. (See related story, p. 32).