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US Army apologizes for rattling nerves in Flint

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Officials with the United States Army and the city of Flint are apologizing to people in a city neighborhood jarred by a series of explosions on Tuesday.

The loud explosions were part of a training exercise at a former school building nearby. The event was not publicly announced beforehand. 

“Things got pushed up a little sooner than we wanted to,” says city spokesman Jason Lorenz, “but in the future, people will know if something is going to be taking place in their area.”

Army officials are tight-lipped about the training exercise.  

Major Randee Farrell says the operation has been in the planning stages for the past six months. But what the training is and what it’s for, she won’t say.

“(The training) is designed to insure our ability to operate in urban environments,” says Farrell. “It’s something we can’t typically get on a military base.”

Flint police are assisting the U.S. Army.

Chief James Tolbert says two officers will be assigned to each training site.

“The officers that will be on site will be there for the security of the citizens,” says Tolbert, “and the security of the people working in the operation.”

As part of that security, the locations of each day’s training operations are not being released long in advance. 

Chief Tolbert says information will be posted to the Flint Police Department’s Facebook page and police officers will try to notify people living nearby to expect loud noises. 

A school district spokeswoman says several of the buildings involved in the training are owned by the district. The buildings have been closed for some time. The spokeswoman says Army officials promise to repair damage to the buildings related to the training exercise. 

Army officials expect to wrap up their training operation in Flint and other Michigan cities by June 12.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.