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Michigan National Guard increases footprint in Flint

Members of the Michigan National Guard preparing to help residents in Flint get access to clean drinking water.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

More Michigan National Guardsmen are on their way to help relief efforts in Flint.  

But not as many as you might expect.

Lead contamination has made Flint’s tap water undrinkable. The Michigan State Police, the American Red Cross and other groups are augmenting local efforts to distribute cases of bottled water, water filters and lead testing kits.

This week, Gov. Rick Snyder activated the Michigan Army National Guard. 

But don’t expect to see hundreds of guardsmen flooding the streets of Flint.

By tomorrow, only 32 guardsmen will be in Flint to hand out bottled water and filters at five Flint fire stations.

Major General Gregory Vadnais is the adjutant general for the Michigan National Guard. Vadnais has experience marshaling a military response to a disaster. He was involved in the response to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. 

Vadnais visited some of the city's fire stations today. He says for now, no more guardsman will be needed in Flint.

“Because that door-to-door mission is being filled by other agencies,” says Vadnais. “If we’re asked to come in and go door to door ... obviously we would build a force to meet that requirement.”

Right now, a small number of law enforcement officers and volunteers are knocking on doors looking for people in need of help in Flint. They’re reaching about 700 homes a day, but there’s only someone home about half the time. 

There are more than 30,000 households in Flint.   

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.
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