Earlier this week, as public outrage and media attention focused on his failed response to the Flint water disaster, Michigan’s republican governor announced that he was calling in the National Guard to help deal with the escalating crisis.
On January 13, those troops arrived in the city of 100,000 people. All SEVEN of them. Yes, seven. As in one less than eight.
Doing the math, Snyder’s response equates to one guardsman per 14,285.7 people.
The city of Flint is experiencing a crisis of epic proportions, thanks entirely to the Snyder administration. Water poisoned with lead, and water that is potentially contaminated with the Legionella bacteria (which has already caused 87 serious illnesses and ten deaths) is just one aspect of what is happening in Flint.
After the governor and his appointed emergency managers switched the city’s water supply to the Flint River, they decided not to bother to treat it with standard corrosion control measures.
According to researchers from Virginia Tech University, Flint is the only city in the U.S. that did not have these measures in place.
As Marc Edwards of the Virginia Tech water study described to Michigan Radio back in October:
“What we discovered to our shock was that they switched to a new water source that was obviously very corrosive, meaning it would eat up the lead pipe and iron pipe and essentially put the metals into the water, without controlling the corrosion. And this is a horrible idea in a city full of lead plumbing and lead pipe like Flint.”
He went on to describe the standard practice for changing a water source.
“Before you switch to a new water source, six months to a year ahead of time, you are supposed to do laboratory experiments to determine the corrosivity of the water, and the chemistry – the pH, the alkalinity, and the phosphate that you need to make sure that the lead stays on the pipes and out of the water.”
Edwards explains that Flint’s new water system had to have a “corrosion control” plan in place, otherwise the result is that you’re “doing an uncontrolled human experiment on a city’s population.”
The decision by Rick Snyder’s emergency manager to just skip what was apparently viewed as an “unnecessary” corrosion control expense has basically been just that. “An uncontrolled experiment on a city’s population.”
The amount of damage done to the city’s infrastructure is just beginning to be realized.
This photo from Flint Water Study researchers Ni Zhu and Siddhartha Roy shows the magnitude of the situtuation.
According to a new report released today, researchers believe that the damaged and corroded pipes that are transmitting water throughout the city are likely to become a breeding ground for bacteria, such as the Legionella bacteria which causes Legionaire’s disease, along with a host of other potential pathogens.
Because of the nature of the Legionella bacteria, which is transmitted through tiny droplets of water in the air, Virginia Tech researchers are recommending that vulnerable populations have minimal contact with the water. That includes people who smoke, the elderly, people with diabetes, people who have recently had surgery and others who might be at greater risk of contracting a waterborne respiratory disease.
About 100,000 Flint residents are affected by this unmitigated disaster.
In response, Governor Snyder put on a big show of “sending in the National Guard.” Now we know that only SEVEN guardsmen were actually dispatched to the city.
After being forced to respond to questions regarding the number of guardsmen he sent to the city, the governor’s office proclaimed that there could be as many as 30 or 40 National Guardsmen sent to Flint by the end of the week.
During his PR conference on Tuesday, Snyder told the people of Michigan “As we work to ensure that all Flint residents have access to clean and safe drinking water, we are providing them with the direct assistance they need in order to stretch our resources further. The Michigan National Guard is trained and ready to assist the citizens of Flint.”
He neglected to mention that he was sending SEVEN guardsmen.
As reported by Fox 2:
“The Governor’s rhetoric is not doing much to quiet the growing fury in Flint. Gov. Rick Snyder called in the National Guard to assist those helping to get bottled water and filters to the people of Flint. Just seven members of the National Guard showed up to help the nearly 100,000 people in Flint.”
Watch this video on Governor Snyder’s pathetic response to the Flint water disaster, via Fox 2.
What an absolute joke.
Image credit: video screen capture via Fox 2