Officials emphasize commitment to Flint, even after federal emergency declaration expires

State will provide POD commodities; federal and state programs and expanded benefits will continue.

Aug 5th, 2016
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The emergency response in Flint, Mich., will include distribution of bottles water well after the expiration of the federal emergency declaration. Image Courtesy: Flickr.

FLINT, MI, AUGUST, 5, 2016 -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State of Michigan and City of Flint reaffirmed a continued commitment to restoring Flint’s drinking water system and support for Flint residents past the August 14 expiration date of the federal emergency declaration.

"I want to assure residents of Flint that the city, along with our federal and state partners, will continue efforts to support Flint’s recovery after the federal declaration ends on the August 14," said City of Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. "Filters, replacement cartridges and bottled water will continue to be distributed at no charge. Other support services that have been in put in place will continue as well."

"We remain as dedicated today to the Flint community's recovery as we were when President Obama declared an emergency in January," explained HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Nicole Lurie, who leads the Administration’s support efforts for Flint. "The many programs, services, resources, and benefits now available in Flint do not depend on the declaration, and they will continue for months and in some cases for years to come."

On January 16, President Obama signed an Emergency Declaration authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide water resources and relief support to state and local response efforts. Since the President first authorized FEMA to provide commodity support, FEMA has provided more than 20 million liters of water, more than 243,000 water filter replacement cartridges, and 50,000 water and pitcher filters. The State of Michigan will assume responsibility for the total cost of water supplies and will continue to provide filters, replacement cartridges, bottled water, and at-home water testing kits after the presidential emergency declaration ends on August 14th.

"August 14 is just a date on the calendar, and as Governor Snyder has said, we will make decisions based on science, not arbitrary dates," said Capt. Chris Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and Commander of the MSP/EMHSD. "The state of Michigan’s mission will continue to ensure Flint residents have access to safe, clean drinking water. Until the water meets quality standards, we will provide water supplies to Flint water system customers at the water resource sites."

Under the presidential declaration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been providing water resource assistance under a 75 percent federal and 25 percent state cost share. After mid-August, the state of Michigan will be responsible for 100 percent of the total cost of water supply purchases. Aside from the state of Michigan taking on additional costs, Flint residents will not notice any loss of water emergency services.

Since January, EPA has completed numerous rounds of water quality sampling and undertaken a robust community outreach and engagement program. The EPA will continue to sample Flint homes for lead in drinking water and monitor chlorine in the system through at least December 2016.

"Flint’s water system has gone from the worst-monitored to the best monitored in the nation, and our data shows that water quality is significantly moving in the right direction, “said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Bob Kaplan. "But we won’t be at the finish line until testing can confirm that Flint residents are receiving safe, clean drinking water.”

All of the nutrition, health care, and behavioral health programs also will continue past August 14. For example, the Medicaid expansion, which will help tens of thousands of individuals receive family coordination support services, was approved for five years, and the state can renew the waiver. Additional health care and behavioral health services are still available at the Genesee Health System and Hamilton Community Health Network, and HHS-funded renovations at Genesee Health System will support long-term improvements at the center for years to come.

Flint residents will have access to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer program (EBT), through which more than 39,000 children in Flint and Genesee County, including children who receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year or who live or attend school in areas directly impacted by lead contamination, are eligible to receive a $30 benefit package each month this summer to purchase nutritious foods. Also continuing is the Double Up Food Bucks program, which provides residents in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with an extra $20 per day to buy fruits and vegetables year round.

Starting in September for four months, USDA's The Emergency Food Assistance Program, or TEFAP, will provide 14-pound nutrient-targeted food packages to more than 17,000 Flint area TEFAP recipients. The packages, which will contain foods rich in calcium, iron, and vitamin C, will supplement the regular packages that eligible families currently receive.

To aid in long-term economic recovery, the State of Michigan is using a U.S. Department of Labor National Dislocated Worker Grant to provide temporary employment for Flint residents to assist in recovery work, such as distribution and installation of filters and replacement cartridges and water distribution at points of distribution across the city. The goal is employ up to 400 workers in these temporary positions and to provide career and training services to help them find permanent work.

Additionally, federal agencies are partnering with the City of Flint and community organizations on critical recovery, community revitalization, and economic projects, such as the transformation of the former manufacturing site Chevy Commons into a museum and park. Beginning August 25, federal agencies will host a series of community workshops to empower and inform residents on important federal government resource programs.

The City of Flint, the State of Michigan, EPA, and HHS continue to recommend Flint residents drink filtered or bottled water. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/flint.

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