Door-to-door effort underway in water crisis

Posted at 4:24 PM, Jan 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-12 18:23:00-05

Volunteers and police carrying bottled water, filters and lead test kits knocked on doors in Flint on Tuesday, seeking to help residents in the Michigan city that's confronting a water crisis.

State troopers and sheriff's deputies escorted eight teams as they trudged through cold temperatures and 3 inches of snow, with more falling. Flyers were left at homes where no one answered, giving the location of where to pick up the items later.

"We plan to go every day this week and we'll continue until everyone has safe drinking water," state police Lt. Dave Kaiser said.

They hope to get to 500 to 600 houses a day, Genesee County sheriff's Capt. Casey Tafoya said. Flint has about 99,000 residents in an estimated 30,000 households.

The water resource teams are among a number of relief efforts started in the wake of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder declaring an emergency last week.

For months, water drawn from the Flint River leached lead from old plumbing into homes after the city switched its drinking water in 2014 from Detroit's system to save money. Testing in October detected increased lead levels in residential water supplies and in children's blood. Exposure to lead can cause behavior problems and learning disabilities in children.

Flint has since returned to Detroit's system for its water.

The state auditor general and a task force created by Snyder have faulted the Department of Environmental Quality for not requiring Flint to treat the river water for corrosion and belittling the public's fears. The agency's director stepped down last month.

Snyder also has been the target of criticism.

The "goal is to get to every household in Flint ... what they need in terms of water to be successful while we go through this period until we get a long-term solution," he said Tuesday during a tour of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

"I'm responsible for the entire state and our operations," he said. "But there are many other good things going on and we're working hard to recover from this in terms of doing the right things in Flint."

Snyder issued an executive order Monday that created a committee to work long-term on resolving the crisis and health concerns.

Officials announced over the weekend that water, filters and replacement cartridges will be distributed from five city fire stations. At least two fire houses didn't have any of lead testing kits Tuesday morning, and one didn't have filters until about 10:30 a.m.


Associated Press writer Jeff Karoub in Detroit contributed to this story.