FLINT (WWJ) — News that President Barack Obama approved Gov. Rick Snyder’s request for federal aid to Flint was welcomed with a sense of relief by the city’s mayor, Karen Weaver, on Saturday.
The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will begin helping to provide supplies to the city that has been ravaged by a water crisis for nearly two years.READ MORE: Police Search For Driver After Woman Killed In Detroit Hit-And-Run
Weaver, elected in November as the city’s first female mayor, said that bottled water and water filters are some of the most important resources the city can receive. Residents were urged to stay away from drinking and cooking with tap water after elevated levels of lead were found after the city switched its water supply from Detroit water to the Flint River.
“For almost two years, the people have been crying out,” Weaver said live on WWJ Newsradio 950. “But they’ve been rallying and one of the things is that we never gave up hope, we didn’t stop.”
The federal government will supply $5 million that will be used the emergency, 25 percent of which the state must match. If the $5 million is exhausted, Congress has the option to approve additional funding.
Weaver said that she is not aware of a timetable of when federal aid will begin to arrive.
“They are going to be coordinating some services here as far as what we’ve been doing with water and filters, and they’re going to be assessing what’s happening in our city and determining what needs to happen next,” Weaver said.READ MORE: Abbott Could Restart Baby Formula Plant Within 2 Weeks, Pending Court Approval
Weaver declared a state of emergency in December after new blood test results showed that 21 children and nine adults had elevated lead levels in their blood. Test results also showed that lead levels in the water are lower now than they were over the summer, before Flint switched back to Detroit’s water supply in October.
Weavers said that her focus, however, has been on what needs to be done to help the over 100,000 citizens of her city.
“There has been a host of emotions going on here in the city of Flint,” Weaver said. “There have been emotions of anger, sadness, disappointment — there’s excitement right now. My job has been to try to stay focused and move forward with what we need to have happen for Flint.”
Residents are still not using tap water to drink or cook with. Groups from all over Michigan and the country have been coming together to supply Flint with bottled water.
“This bottled water is just so important for us because that’s just not normal when you can’t drink your water,” Weaver said. “It’s a basic need and it doesn’t make sense that we can’t drink our water.”
Weaver said that it is still not known how long it will take for tap water to return to a drinkable state.MORE NEWS: Elon Musk Hints At Paying Less For Twitter Than His $44B Offer
“It puts us in a very bad situation, we don’t know how long it will take, “Weaver said. “So we wait.”