U.S. Health and Human Services to lead federal response of Flint water crisis

Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Mary K. Wakefield says that her department will take the lead in the federal response to the Flint water crisis. (NBC25)

FLINT, Mich. (WEYI) -- Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Mary K. Wakefield says that her department will take the lead in the federal response to the Flint water crisis.

The HHS will work with FEMA, the Small Business Administration, the EPA, the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Agriculture to find the best ways to help the Flint residents.

Flint's water crisis began in April of 2014 when the city's water supply shifted away from the Detroit water system and to Flint River water. Later, it was discovered that the river water was leeching lead from the aging pipes in the city and putting it in the water. Tests of the children in the city showed that many had elevated lead levels in their blood. In October of 2015, the city switched back to the Detroit water supply, but the water is still considered unsafe to drink.

Currently, residents rely on bottled water and water filters provided by donations, the state government, and the federal government.

SEE ALSO | Flint mayor meeting with President Obama

According to a release by the HHS, they will develop both a short-term and long-term plan around lead exposure.

HHS officials say that they will be in Flint this week.

Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Nicole Lurie will be leading the effort in Flint.

Additionally, the HHS Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Karen DeSalvo along with two U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers will also help with day-to-day operations in Flint, according to a posting on the HHS website.

Lead testing kits are also being given out to residents.

Stay with NBC25 News for all the latest on the Flint Water Crisis.

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