FEMA again denies Snyder’s Flint disaster request

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied Friday Gov. Rick Snyder’s appeal of its decision that Flint’s contaminated water crisis is a federal emergency instead of a major disaster.

Snyder requested $96 million in disaster relief, but Obama extended $5 million in federal emergency aid and followed Thursday with an $80 million allocation to the state of Michigan for federal drinking water construction aid and loans. The $80 million comes from the 2016 federal budget, and the state presumably would award most if not all of the assistance to Flint.

The Republican governor said Friday in a statement that he would immediately ask President Barack Obama to reconsider and award more money for housing aid and personal property replacement as well as emergency protective measures.

FEMA said in its rejection letter that it can’t approve such aid under the law. The agency reiterated that Flint’s contaminated water didn’t qualify as a major disaster because it is a man-made crisis instead of a natural catastrophe. It also wasn’t caused by an explosion, fire or flood.

“FEMA’s assistance remains limited to what the president authorized in the emergency declaration” on Jan. 16, FEMA spokeswoman Cassie Ringsdorf said.

“FEMA will, in coordination with the state, provide water, water filters, water filter cartridges, testing kits, and other necessary related items for a period of up to 90 days from the date of this declaration. The decision means that the state can continue to work directly with other federal agencies and those agencies can provide assistance through their own authorities.”

But Snyder said he is appealing again and requesting the money under the emergency declaration.

“I want to continue working to obtain additional federal resources for the people of Flint,” Snyder said. “These programs could help immensely as we work together on continued solutions to problems created by a failure of government at the state, local and federal levels.”

The Michigan Legislature is fast-tracking a $28 million supplemental funding bill that would finance water, filters and other aid.