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State will ask Obama to extend emergency declaration in Flint

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint has just about a month left until its federal emergency declaration expires.

That declaration lets the state buy bottled water, filters and testing kits through the federal government -- with the feds covering 75% of the cost.

The federal "emergency" declaration is really designed for short-term crises, like right before a hurricane strikes, when a city has to stock up on emergency generators or bottled water.  

Still, the state is asking for an extension of this emergency declaration for Flint through mid-August.

State Police Captain Chris Kelenske serves as commander of the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division. He’s filing the extension request this week.

He says, even if the request gets denied, nobody needs to worry about Flint running out of supplies.

"Because the state is committed to continue to assist the city of Flint,” he says. “So let us handle these commodities, we'll get people what they need."

If the extension is denied, that could mean tougher logistics (where to store all those filters, for example) and a higher bill for the state.

“Then we're paying a higher price for it, that's the other side of it,” Capt. Kelenske says. “I mean, who wouldn't want to pay 25% cost, you know, on something?”

Governor Snyder applied for a federal disaster declaration for Flint, which would have come with a lot more long-term aid. But the “disaster” declaration is restricted to naturally occurring crises, like floods and tornadoes, and the state’s requests and appeals were denied.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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