To help with the ongoing Flint, Michigan water crisis, Cher will be donating water to residents. According to a Fox News report, over 180,000 bottles will be sent to the city beginning Monday.
“This is a tragedy of staggering proportion and shocking that it’s happening in the middle of our country,” the Oscar winner said. Cher, with the help of friend Brad Horwitz and water company Icelandic Glacial, will donate 181,440 bottles of water to the troubled city.
As reported by the Detroit Free Press, President Barack Obama declared the Flint water crisis a federal emergency on Saturday. The declaration makes $5 million in federal aid available to the city.
Michigan Governor Rick Synder asked for the declaration on Thursday, saying the state does not have the ability to handle the water crisis on its own. According to the request, Flint is overwhelmed by the lead contamination and as much as $55 million is needed in the near term to help the “impoverished area.”
A previous request by Snyder for a disaster declaration was denied by the White House. While an emergency, declaration funds are capped at $5 million, a disaster declaration would have provided much more federal money to Flint residents.
According to government officials, only natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes are eligible for disaster declarations. The Flint water crisis is considered a man-made catastrophe.
The president’s authorization calls for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate relief efforts and pay up to 75 percent of clean water-related costs, such as filters, filter cartridges, and other items. The Obama Administration is also looking into other federal assistance programs to deal with the crisis.
Snyder is thankful for the added federal aid. “I have pledged to use all state resources possible to help heal Flint, and these additional resources will greatly assist in efforts under way to ensure every resident has access to clean water resources,” he said.
Being critical of Michigan’s governor for the mishandling of the water crisis, U.S. Representative Dan Kildee acknowledged the need for federal help.
“I welcome the president’s quick action in support of the people of Flint after months of inaction by the governor. The residents and children of Flint deserve every resource available to make sure that they have safe water and are able to recover from this terrible man-made disaster created by the state.”
The water crisis began almost two years ago when the city of Flint changed its water supply source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Although the Flint River is treated by the Flint water treatment plant, the city’s drinking water was eventually found to be contaminated with high amounts of lead.
The switch was an effort to save money by city officials, but the state Department of Environmental Quality failed to require the addition of necessary corrosion-control chemicals to the water. Without the chemicals, lead from pipes and fixtures leached into the water.
Even after numerous residents complained about the taste, odor, and the appearance of the water, government officials refused to act. The state even ignored reports of elevated lead levels in the blood of Flint children.
“The state was telling everybody, ‘It’s fine, relax…. It’s safe,'” said community activist Melissa Mays. “They lied.”
It wasn’t until October 2015 that the city of Flint admitted there was a problem with the water supply. After angry criticism for not moving more quickly, Gov. Snyder finally responded to the crisis by declaring a state of emergency on January 5 and activating the National Guard seven days later. The distribution of free water, filters, as well as other supplies began last week.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Karen Weaver, the mayor of Flint, declared a state of emergency in December.
In cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Justice Department plans to investigate the Flint water crisis. Additionally, Attorney General Bill Schuette will also look into the matter to determine if any environmental laws were broken or if there was any wrongdoing by government officials.
[Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images]