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Flint residents encouraged to attend event for help with complicated water settlement claim process

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Steve Carmody
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Michigan Radio

Organizers hope thousands of Flint residents will take part in a two-day event this weekend to learn how to submit a claim for a share of the $626 million Flint water settlement.

The deadline to file a claim was this past Thursday, but a federal judge extended the deadline to June 30.

U.S. District Judge Judith Levy acted after the Special Master overseeing the claims process reported only about a quarter of the people eligible to file a claim had done so as of last week.

Some Flint residents have expressed frustration with the complicated claim process.

To address this issue, lawyers will spend Saturday and Sunday at the Flint Development Center on Martin Luther King Avenue answering questions and helping people organize their paperwork.

Attorney Channing Robinson-Holmes said there was an increase in claims being filed before the judge extended the filing deadline to the end of June.

“We want to capitalize on both those things happening and drive people to get their claims packets in,” said Robinson-Holmes.

The state of Michigan, the city of Flint, McLaren Flint Hospital, and Rowe Professional Services contributed to the fund to settle legal claims tied to the Flint water crisis. More than 50,000 people applied to be part of the settlement. But as of last week, only 13,000 claims had been filed.

Flint City Attorney William Kim says it’s important to the city to encourage people to file a claim.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for the residents to come in, meet with the class council, in a venue that is comfortable, familiar to them, and get their questions answered and help facilitate that process of filing their claims,” said Kim.

Nearly 80% of the settlement is set aside for children who were exposed to Flint’s lead tainted drinking water.

Lead levels in Flint’s tap water soared after the city’s drinking water source was switched in April, 2014. The change was intended to save the city money. But improperly treated water taken from the Flint River damaged pipes, releasing lead and other contaminants into the city’s drinking water.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio 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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