Swift federal action moves Flint toward recovery
Since January 19, when President Obama designated HHS as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating the Administration’s response and recovery efforts in Flint, we have made significant headway. Across the federal family, we are focused on helping state and local officials ensure access to safe water, restore the water system, address health issues and take actions to mitigate the effects of lead on kids’ development by increasing access to nutrition, healthcare and early childhood interventions.
Here are some of the highlights of the progress that HHS, EPA, USDA, HUD, SBA, Education, Commerce and FEMA have made to support the people of Flint:
Ensuring safe water and restoring the system:
We’ve helped improve access to bottled water for 99 percent of residents.
FEMA has provided over 2 million liters of bottled water, over 55,000 water and pitcher filters and over 236,000 filter replacement cartridges.
EPA is making sure that the water system will ultimately become safe, and is testing lead and copper levels, chlorine levels, water filters effectiveness, whether lead in homes is coming from the home or service lines, and overall water quality. EPA teams have collected over 2,000 samples from more than 200 homes. EPA’s tests show that the system is recovering.
Dozens of AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps volunteers are distributing water and filters, managing donations, helping place 2,000 community volunteers and teaching school children about water safety and nutrition.
HHS has also taken swift steps to help families in Flint overcome potential impacts to health and child development, including:
- Expanding Medicaid coverage for children up to age 21 and pregnant women in in Flint so that approximately 15,000 additional children and pregnant women are now eligible for Medicaid coverage, and 30,000 current Medicaid beneficiaries in the area are eligible for expanded services.
- Providing $500,000 to help Flint health centers hire more people and conduct blood lead level testing, treatment, outreach and education.
- Identifying $3.6 million in one-time emergency funding to help Head Start grantees expand early childhood education, behavioral health services, health services and nutrition services.
- Analyzing data on blood lead levels and helping ensure that kids are tested for lead and that those with high levels get needed follow up.
- Foods rich in calcium, iron and vitamin C can help mitigate lead absorption in children. That’s why USDA is increasing access to these foods for children in Flint by:
- Encouraging eligible schools in the Flint area to participate in a program that ensures universal access to healthy school meals.
- Providing an additional $62,700 to help schools purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Supporting program providers, community-based organizations and the farmers’ market.
Supporting economic recovery:
To aid Flint’s small businesses, the Small Business Administration has:
- Provided low-interest disaster loans for small businesses in Flint and opened a Business Recovery Center to help local businesses with these loans.
- Dedicated approximately $400,000 in additional funding for existing small business programs in Flint.
Additionally, $325,000 of an existing HUD lead-paint hazard grant for public housing in Flint can be applied to the crisis.
Technical assistance to Flint through HUD’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) program has been extended through 2016. This program focuses on economic development in economically distressed communities.
From technical assistance, to guidance, training and planning expertise, we continue to support the city of Flint’s recovery so that families and children there can thrive. Working together is vital to help the city rebound and become stronger than it was before the water contamination crisis.
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