Disaster at home has once again brought out the National Guard to provide emergency relief to hundreds of thousands of people facing toxic tap water. Americans are in peril, and government agencies are scrambling to patch up the failure to provide decent conditions to its residents.
On the upside, the government is taking the contamination of water in and around Flint, Michigan seriously.
On the downside, effective martial law is taking over the area, as a water crisis emergency has been declared, and National Guard troops will be conducting door-to-door visits to deliver water, filters and supplies. It could be Hurricane Katrina all over again, but this time there’s no hurricane to blame, only people.
A swarm of federal and state agencies are coming with them, including FEMA, the EPA and the CDC.
via ABC News:
Members of the Michigan National Guard began arriving in Flint on Wednesday for briefings on the drinking water crisis just as state health officials reported a spike in Legionnaires’ disease cases in the county where the city is located.
…They are part of a larger contingent of Guardsmen who will help distribute bottled water, filters and other supplies to residents.
About 30 Guardsmen will be in place by Friday, enabling American Red Cross volunteers to join the door-to-door efforts that began Tuesday instead of staffing sites where residents can pick up free bottled water, filters, replacement cartridges and home water testing kits.
Lead poisoning can cause brain damage, learning disabilities, pregnancy issues and vital threats to long term development. Legionnaires’ Disease, a potentially deadly lung infection, is also sweeping the area, with dozens of residents coming down with the rare disease which may or may not be attributable to the water crisis in Flint.
Flint’s tap water became contaminated with too much lead after the city switched its water supply in 2014 to save money while under state financial management.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is consulting with state health officials and local health departments in Michigan on the increase in Legionnaire’s disease cases in and around Flint… Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria that infect the lungs… they can’t conclude that the increase is related to Flint’s water crisis.
Snyder, who has also faced criticism, said Monday that the water situation is a “crisis” and last week declared an emergency.
Bad pipes and neglected water treatment systems in the rundown areas of Flint and Detroit have made this a long-term issue that will continue to pose a health threat, and invite federal intervention.
Poor economic conditions have now put lives at risk and created a “man made water disaster.”
For more than a year, water drawn from the Flint River leached lead from old lines into homes after the city switched its drinking water. Exposure to lead can cause behavior problems and learning disabilities in children.
This latest disaster – which has put an entire city and other surrounding areas at risk – should have been avoided from the beginning. Instead it has causes numerous deaths, and left citizens exposed to a series of potentially serious hazards.
Add this experience to the list of SHTF scenarios – municipal breakdown, unreliable public utility quality control, environmental contamination in urban environment, and viral disease exposure in the water supply!
Government can’t and won’t help you avoid these life threatening crisis. Flint, Michigan just proved it isn’t ready for everyday services, let alone resilience in a disaster.
And Flint isn’t alone. Joshua Krause reported on Sacramento in California, where cash-strapped city officials cut back on water treatment and testing, and left residents drinking contaminated water for over a year. Texas has had a long-standing controversy over high levels of radioactive particles in drinking water.
While the National Guard jumps in to restore order, and the alphabet agencies study what went wrong and how much to fix it, government wasn’t even able to ensure basic clean water.
Before the National Guard has to make a door-to-door visit, it would be prudent to get your own water filtration, storage and purification system in order. Start here with the basic methods and most important priorities for water during an emergency.
With the chloramines, fluoride, heavy metals and radioactive contaminants in most public drinking water systems, it would be wise to be using these systems anyway in everyday use.