Michigan lawmakers on Wednesday extended the state of emergency in Flint for four months, enabling the city to tap more state funds and coordinate a response with other authorities to the crisis over lead contamination in the city’s drinking water.
The legislature matched the time line of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which last month extended emergency assistance to Flint through Aug. 14 from mid-April. Aid has included supplies of bottled water, filters and test kits.
The extension applies to Genesee County, which includes Flint and surrounding towns, as well as to Flint proper. It allows state officials to tap funds that otherwise would be restricted, a spokesman in Governor Rick Snyder’s office said by telephone.
“The state is committed to continue working with the city to provide strong support and continue drawing on all resources available to support Flint residents during the city’s recovery,” Snyder said in a statement.
Snyder was hauled in March before a U.S. congressional committee where he faced tough questioning over his response to Flint’s crisis. He has resisted calls for his resignation.
Michigan has committed nearly $67 million in funding for Flint and the governor has proposed a total of $230 million, officials said.
Flint 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 to save money.
The city switched back last October after tests found high levels of lead in children’s blood samples. The more corrosive water from the river leached more lead from the city pipes than Detroit water did. Lead is a toxic agent that can damage the human nervous system.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Fiona Ortiz)