In order to make federal emergency relief funding available to Flint, Michigan, President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in the Detroit suburb Saturday afternoon, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The Press also reported that the president will seek federal assistance from more than just the Federal Emergency Management Agency. With this declaration, FEMA will respond to the crisis.
At 3 p.m. on Saturday, the FEMA's public affairs director tweeted that Obama's declaration will allow FEMA to offer the families water, water filters, water test kits and "other necessary items."
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency in the town on Dec. 14, followed by the same declaration from Gov. Rick Snyder on Jan. 6.
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee issued a statement praising Obama's decision.
"I welcome the president's quick action in support of the people of Flint after months of inaction by the governor," he said in statement, Detroit Free Press reports. "The residents and children of Flint deserve every resource available to make sure that they have safe water and are able to recover from this terrible manmade disaster created by the state."
According to the Detroit Free Press, by declaring a state of emergency, Obama has made $5 million in funding available to Flint. If he wants more, he must ask Congress. If he were to declare a disaster area in Flint, usually reserved for natural disasters rather than manmade ones, more funding would become available.
In 2014, to cut costs, an unelected official in Flint switched the city's water supply from Detroit's water system to get water from the Flint River. Residents began to report brown tap water, hair loss and skin rashes almost immediately, though government officials largely ignored their concerns, and the concerns of doctors and researchers who said the lead levels were toxic.