Mayor Weaver Crosses another Hurdle in Quest for Federal Disaster Declaration
By Charles H. Winfrey
Adamant in her resolve to fix Flint’s water woes for Flint’s people, Mayor Karen Weaver has achieved what many pundits believed impossible. She has gotten Governor Rick Snyder to declare a state of emergency in the City of Flint because of its contaminated water source.
During the course of Dr. Weaver’s campaign for Mayor, she continually insisted the only way to fix the massive problem related to utilizing the Flint River as a water source for our community was to seek a federal disaster declaration from President Barack Obama. Such a declaration would pave the way for resources to flow from the federal government to impact the problem Flint residents are facing. Because in addition to the fact lead is leaching from the city’s water distribution pipes into the drinking water of homes throughout the city, the corrosives of the Flint River has caused irreparable harm to the city’s aging infrastructure. Therefore, a mere switch back to less corrosive water does not, by itself, solve the problem.
In a statement released during her Mayoral campaign, Dr. Weaver stated: “I am standing here at Congressman Kildee’s office to stress the importance of the letter I recently sent to our elected Congressional , Legislative, and Executive officials asking that, because of the high levels of lead leaching into the tap water of our homes, causing immeasurable damage to our infants and young children, and because of the immeasurable damage the corrosiveness of Flint River water is causing to our water distribution system, I am asking that the city of Flint be declared a disaster area”
Once elected, however, there were many hurdles to cross before that wish could be fulfilled. First, it would be necessary to declare a state of emergency in the city itself, with an accompanying disaster relief plan. Secondly, it would be necessary for Genesee County to declare an emergency in the city. On January 4, the County Board of Commissioners resolved that an emergency existed in the city of Flint. The county’s resolution was then passed on to Governor Snyder’s office to put into motion the final step prior to the request reaching the President’s desk—an emergency declaration from the governor.
Governor Snyder wasted no time in responding to Flint’s emergency. In a statement issued on January 5, Governor Snyder stated: “the health and welfare of Flint residents is a top priority and we’re committed to a coordinated approach with resources from state agencies to address all aspects of this situation. Working in full partnership with the Flint Water Advisory Task Force, all levels of government and water-quality experts, we will find both short term and long-term solutions to ensure the health and safety of Flint residents.”
Mayor Weaver expressed surprise that the governor responded so quickly to her request. “I don’t even know if people expected it to happen this quickly,” Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said. Elated, however, that she had achieved another milestone in her quest, she stated: “This is a good step. The city can now rely on some state resources. We’re looking for cash. We’re looking for resources. We’re looking for services. Whatever we can get and identify needs as we go along.”
Mayor Weaver was scheduled to meet with Governor Snyder in Lansing on Thursday, January 7, to finalize the coordination of efforts between the State, County and City.