LANSING – Gov. Rick Snyder Tuesday declared a state of emergency for Genesee County due to the ongoing health and safety issues caused by lead in the city of Flint’s drinking water.
Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick says that timing is everything, “he needs to do this.”READ MORE: Michigan Reports 5,616 New COVID-19 Cases, 68 Deaths
The local government declared a local state of emergency — the governor’s office really had no choice by to follow suit says Skubick. “The governor wants the people of Flint to know that he is concerned about their health and he’s sorry that this has happened and that he does everything he can to make sure that they take care of the problem in Flint.”
The administration remains on the defensive as the state department investigates what went wrong and who should carry the blame says Skubick.
What this does: it sets up the state police and its homeland security division as the coordinating agency for all the recovery efforts that will go on in Flint – the governor also opened up the emergency operation center so all the information will flow through that as the state continues to monitor the lead contamination problem.”
According to the statement released by the Snyder administration by declaring a state of emergency, Snyder has made available all state resources in cooperation with local response and recovery operations. The declaration authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) to coordinate state efforts.
“The health and welfare of Flint residents is a top priority and we’re committed to a coordinated approach with resources from state agencies to address all aspects of this situation,” Snyder said. “Working in full partnership with the Flint Water Advisory Task Force, all levels of government and water quality experts, we will find both short-term and long-term solutions to ensure the health and safety of Flint residents.”READ MORE: Detroit Police Seek Assistance Locating Suspect Wanted For Critical Assault
In addition to the emergency declaration, Snyder activated the State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate state response and recovery activities. State agencies will report to the center to coordinate resources, assess the situation and begin providing assets to assist with local relief operations.
“Our staff recognizes the urgency of this situation and is already working closely with local officials,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “We will continue to collaborate with state, city and county leaders to coordinate relief efforts, streamline communication and use all available resources to help residents.”
On Jan. 4, Genesee County declared a “local state of emergency,” which activated local emergency response and recovery plans. By requesting a governor’s declaration, the county has determined local resources are insufficient to address the situation and state assistance is required to protect public health, safety and property to lessen or avert the threat of a crisis.
The city of Flint has been under a local emergency declaration since Dec. 14, 2015.
The SEOC is the emergency operations center for the state of Michigan. Located in Lansing, the center is overseen by the MSP/EMHSD and coordinates response and recovery efforts by state agencies and local government. The SEOC is staffed by members of state agencies and other partners for decision making and information coordination during disasters or emergencies in the state of Michigan.