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Flint

Will Greenberg/Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder's committee on the Flint water crisis met again Friday, primarily discussing the best evaluation tools for assessing the city's water safety.

Comprised of notables like Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, along with high-ranking officials from agencies like the MDEQ and Health and Human Services, the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee is tasked with developing long-term solutions to the water crisis. The governor formed the committee with an executive order in January.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The federal government has approved Michigan’s request to expand Medicaid eligibility in Flint. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says pregnant women and people under 21 in Flint are now eligible for the expanded coverage.

The Snyder administration asked the federal government for the expanded Medicaid coverage, as part of its response to the Flint water crisis. There are concerns about the health effects of exposure to Flint’s lead-tainted drinking water. 

The expansion will affect an estimated 15,000 Flint residents.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint plans to start digging up lead service lines tomorrow. But today, a contractor paid by a private group got to work doing the same thing on the city’s north side.

Brittani Felton watched from her driveway as workers dug a deep trench in front of her home on Flint’s Alma Avenue. At the bottom of the muddy hole lay the service line connecting Felton’s home to the city water main.

She’s had her water tested, but the results aren’t back yet. 

Flint Head Start will get $3.6 million boost

Mar 2, 2016
Barnaby Wasson / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced a $3.6 million immediate expansion for Head Start and Early Head Start services in Flint.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state Democratic Party chairman says Michigan’s state treasurer should resign or be fired for his handling of Flint’s water crisis.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon says State Treasurer Nick Khouri made not going back to Detroit water a condition of a deal when the state gave Flint a $7 million loan to get out of debt last April.  

house in Flint
Sarah Razak / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Kettering University wants to help faculty and staff members buy houses in Flint.

The university's Employee Home Purchase and Renovation Assistance program will give eligible employees forgivable $15,000 loans to buy and live in homes near campus.

The program's designated neighborhoods are Mott Park, Glendale Hills, and Carriage Town.

Employees who already own homes in those neighborhoods are eligible for $5,000 forgivable loans to fix up their property.

If borrowers adhere to specific requirements, they don't have to repay the loan.

New app to help Flint residents navigate water crisis

Mar 1, 2016
Courtesy photo

A new app for mobile devices aims to help Flint residents get the information they need to deal with the city's water crisis.

It's called "Empower Flint," and it gives Flint residents a checklist of the most important steps to take to protect themselves, their families and even their pets from the lead in Flint's water and pipes. 

Stars gather in Flint to entertain, unite the community

Feb 28, 2016
Will Greenberg/Michigan Radio

Oscar Sunday was a night of stars not only in Los Angeles, but also in Flint. 

Organized by Ryan Coogler and his group Blackout for Human Rights, the #JUSTICEFORFLINT event brought artists across all mediums to the struggling city for a free show. 

sign that says flint
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The federal Small Business Administration is expanding its effort to help Flint recover from its drinking water crisis.

Maria Contreras-Sweet is the SBA administrator. She met with business leaders in Flint on Friday.  She told them the SBA plans to expand operations in Flint. 

“$100,000 is going to help them staff up and then the other funds will help them expand their revolving fund,” says Contreras-Sweet.

Earlier this month, the agency approved Gov. Rick Snyder's request for low-interest disaster loans for businesses in the area.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is one of four cities that’s getting its health put under the microscope.

Flint, Michigan, Kansas City, Kansas, Providence, Rhode Island and Waco, Texas were named pilot cities in the Municipal Health Data for American Cities Initiative last week.  

Flint’s lead-tainted drinking water has been getting most of the attention lately. But Flint has other health problems, too.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Meijer arranged a donation of 1,500 water filters in Flint last summer but insisted on anonymity and even offered to give gift cards so the state could purchase them.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill into law today giving Flint $30 million to cover the city’s water bills. The governor says people shouldn’t have to pay for water they can’t drink. 

The money will cover 65% of the water bills from the past two years. Flint residents are still responsible for paying city water and sewer fees.   

Pastor Jeffery Hawkins watched as the governor signed the legislation.

“Being a Flint resident myself and having to use the water… it is so great to know that this relief has been done,” says Hawkins.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

“We could have done better.”

That’s how Governor Rick Snyder reacted today to questions about revelations his top aides were talking about the need to switch Flint back to Detroit water.  A year before it was done.

After switching to the Flint River in April of 2014, the city’s tap water became contaminated with lead because the river water wasn’t properly treated.  

Emails show top Snyder aides wanted to switch the city away from the Flint River in October of 2014. But that didn’t happen until the fall of 2015.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s new police and fire chiefs are now on the job.

The city’s state oversight board today approved hiring Tim Johnson as Flint’s new top cop and Raymond Barton as Flint’s new fire chief.

Barton is promising changes to the way the city’s undermanned fire department is deployed. He says his predecessor, David Cox, asked too much of Flint’s firefighters.

“Sometimes he put a lot of stress on the firefighters having them work with less,” says Barton.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry said the recent shooting in Kalamazoo won't prompt legislation on gun control any time soon, he explained the controversial "gag order" law and gave an update on Flint and Detroit


Gov. Snyder to release more emails about Flint

Feb 23, 2016
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder says his office will release all Flint-related emails dating back to the beginning of his administration in 2011, including the governor’s emails and staff emails.

Gov. Snyder says they’ll come soon – but has not given a specific date and time.

Snyder says attorneys need to look over the emails and remove any documents that would normally be exempt from public information requests. The governor is releasing the documents voluntarily, as his office is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

Mark Brush

The Flint water crisis has elicited strong reactions from people all over the world. Whether that’s anger, disbelief, compassion, heartbreak or some combination of all those things, many people want to help.

Carrie Metz-Caporusso is a tattoo artist in Ann Arbor and she came up with an unusual idea for a Flint fundraiser.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new round of testing could show if the amount of lead in Flint’s drinking water is declining.

Virginia Tech researchers will send testing kits to people in Flint this week. The researchers spent Friday assembling 300 kits.  

Researcher Siddhartha Roy says they are testing the same homes they did back in August and September.  Those tests revealed unsafe levels of lead.

They also expect to see lower lead levels.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A top state official says people in Flint are relying more and more on water filters. He says that is reducing demand for bottled water.

In response to Flint’s water crisis, six weeks ago the state started stocking distribution centers in Flint with bottled water, filters and lead testing kits.  

But demand at the centers is down significantly. For example, demand for bottled water is now less than a third of its peak. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

 

State and local officials still are not doing enough to fix problems that caused lead pollution of drinking water in Flint, including having enough qualified workers to make sure the city water system functions adequately, a federal regulator said Friday.

 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is getting tens of millions of dollars from the federal government to tear down blighted buildings.

Last year, Congress approved spending $2 billion to fund blight elimination programs nationwide. 

The U.S. Department of Treasury today says Michigan is eligible for more than $300 million from the Hardest Hit fund. Nearly $75 million is available immediately.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, has been among those fighting for the blight money.

The Flint River
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In one of the worst outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in U.S. history, the city of Flint suffered nine deaths as a result. A Flint official reported the problem to the Centers for Disease Control, but the CDC was unable to move forward with an investigation. The reason? The state of Michigan declined the federal agency's assistance.

The official who reported the outbreak was Jim Henry, the Genesee County environmental health supervisor. He joined Stateside to explain what happened and how, he says, those nine deaths could have been prevented.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is a step closer to getting money from the state to replace lead service lines.

Governor Snyder says the state has approved a grant request from the city.

“That frees up $2 million that could be … several hundred lead service line replacements,” says Snyder.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says this is a “positive step.”

Ann Arbor resident Michael Hood from Crossing Water
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

One positive aspect of the Flint water crisis has been the thousands of people from across Michigan, and around the country, who have stepped forward to help – whether donating to various charities or stepping up to help first-hand.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Next week, crews will start digging up lead pipes in Flint.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says a training exercise will take place next week for city crews to learn how to remove lead service lines. 

It’s a step in a process that may end with replacing thousands of lead pipes. 

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about Flint's role in the democratic race for president, and Governor Snyder volunteering to testify about the Flint water crisis in front of Congress. Lessenberry also talks about Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's fight against the Obama administration's rules for Michigan to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 31 percent by 2030. 


Tap water in a Flint hospital on Oct. 16, 2015.
Joyce Zhu / Flintwaterstudy.org

One of the most critical points in discovering the full extent of Flint’s water crisis was a study of blood-lead levels in Flint children.

That study, by pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, found that after the city switched to the Flint River for its drinking water, lead levels in the blood of Flint’s kids doubled. Since then, Hanna-Attisha has become internationally famous, using the attention to fight for the lead-poisoned children of Flint.

But it’s possible she wouldn't have thought to check those blood-lead levels without the help of an old friend from the ninth grade.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she didn’t think Friday was “a bad time” to fire three top city officials.

Some have questioned the timing of Weaver’s decision to let go of Flint Police Chief James Tolbert, Fire Chief David Cox and City Administrator Natasha Henderson last week.

This comes as the city struggles with its drinking water crisis.

“I can’t wait for the water crisis to be ended because we don’t know when that will happen,” says Weaver. 

The three officials were hired by Flint’s former emergency managers.

Photo by Marcin Szczepanski

The Next Idea

There are lingering fears that nothing will be the same in Flint. But maybe things shouldn’t be the same. What if there is a better way for Flint and other cities to harvest and deliver life-enhancing water?

People across the nation are judging Flint as an epic failure of leadership and poor choices. There is no doubt that Flint’s water crisis is an unqualified failure of democracy, but it is also a century-old failure of design and systems thinking.     

Governor Rick Snyder
Flickr user Michigan Municipal League / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder is asking the federal government to expand Medicaid coverage to people under 21 and pregnant women who have been exposed to Flint's lead-contaminated water.

In a statement released Sunday, Snyder says about 15,000 more Flint residents would benefit if the government approves the request. The governor says the state would help by lining up doctors and behavioral health specialists and providing other services.

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