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Calls for answers follow Legionnaires' emails

Posted at 10:23 PM, Feb 04, 2016

Residents affected the most by the Flint water crisis are speaking out, after new emails show top officials knew about the spike in Legionnaires' disease months before Governor Snyder told the public.

In January, Governor Rick Snyder announced the spike in Legionnaires' disease. He said he only found out about it a few days prior to his announcement.

Emails obtained by the liberal group Progress Michigan through public-records requests and shared with The Associated Press show Snyder's own office was aware of the outbreak since last March.

"The increase of the illnesses closely corresponds with the timeframe of the switch to the Flint River water. The majority of the cases reside or have an association with the city," Jim Henry, Genesee County's environmental health supervisor, wrote March 10 to Flint leaders, the city's state-appointed emergency financial manager and the state Department of Environmental Quality, known as the DEQ.

"This situation has been explicitly explained to MDEQ and many of the city's officials," Henry said in the email that was forwarded by the DEQ to a Snyder aide three days later. "I want to make sure in writing that there are no misunderstandings regarding this significant and urgent public health issue.”

Nine people have died of Legionnaires' during the last 17 months and 87 cases were reported.

One of the victims was 58-year-old Debbie Kidd.

"Now we're finding out that he knew back in March of 2014. There could have been a lot of things in place from the time in March when they found out to when my mom died in August,” said Troy Kidd, Debbie’s son.

He believes his mother would be alive today, if this knowledge would have been made public.  He doesn’t know why people like Henry didn’t work harder to get it out.

"If he knew there was something going on, why not get a hold of somebody else? You know, did he get told you need to be quiet?” said Kidd.

Now his daughter will grow up without her grandmother.

"Take all of your memories of your grandma and just wipe them out, because that's what she's going to have, only what we tell her,” said Kidd.

He said the governor needs to own up. Someone needs to be held accountable.

"There's people that died because of this and he gets to go home at night and curl up in his comfy bed.  How is that for justice?” said Kidd.