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State stepping up home visits, education to deal with Flint water crisis

A table filled with bottles of Flint water (both clear and brown)
Flint Water Study

Five new centers have been set up in Flint to get water filters and testing kits to city residents.

It’s another step to address the lead contamination crisis in Flint as Governor Rick Snyder faced a growing crescendo of criticism over the weekend on the state’s handling of the crisis.

Sunday editorial pages and national news shows were harshly critical of the state’s response to the Flint crisis. The Snyder administration responded by posting photos of the state’s emergency operations center on social media and calling attention to stepped-up efforts to get water filters to city residents.

About 20,000 filters have been distributed so far. That’s enough to equip two-thirds of the city’s homes, although there’s no guarantee the filters are properly installed.

The chief coordinator of the state’s response to the Flint crisis says social workers will be making door-to-door visits to make sure homes have water filters correctly installed, and children are getting the services they need.

The state is also trying to get the word out on steps families can take to mitigate the effects of children’s exposure to lead.

“Keep a child as healthy as possible – good parenting, good household structure, good social skills good education, good nutrition,” says Dr. Eden Wells, Michigan’s chief medical executive. “…We know that good nutrition, well-balanced meals, foods that are good in iron and calcium are going to help mitigate any possible leaching of that lead from the environment.”

Governor Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint last week because of the ongoing water crisis, which triggered activation of the state’s emergency response center. That’s months after the Snyder administration acknowledged lead contamination of the city’s drinking water in September. 

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency are also investigating the state’s response to the water crisis. 

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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