The National Guard sent dozens of additional members into Flint, Michigan, on Monday to help address the impoverished city’s water crisis, as Gov. Rick Snyder came under widening criticism — from residents and presidential candidates — for his handling of a massive exposure to lead.
The 70 new guardsmen more than doubled the number already in Flint to hand out bottled water, filters and testing kits in the city’s worst-hit neighborhoods. The first wave of troops arrived over the weekend, while President Obama declared a state of emergency and ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to join the effort.
The contamination is linked to Flint’s decision — under the oversight of a city manager appointed by Snyder — to save money by taking tap water from the Flint River. Soon after the April 2014 switch, some of the city’s 100,000 residents began complaining about the taste, smell and appearance of the water. Tests later showed the river water lacked proper treatment, causing lead to leach from old pipes. Local children have shown elevated levels of lead in their blood, a condition that can cause permanent brain damage.
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