FLINT, Mich. (WOOD) — A day after Gov. Rick Snyder promised to increase the number of National Guard members in Flint, the amount of troops on the ground more than tripled, officials said.
Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais told 24 Hour News 8 that there were 70 troops in Flint before Wednesday and now some 200 more have been brought in.
The troops work 12-hour days, seven days a week right now. Some of them staff the city’s fire stations that have been dubbed water and filter distribution centers. Others are working as part of convoys going door-to-door to distribute water.>>Inside woodtv.com: How you can help Flint residents
For the National Guard, it’s not a mission they are taking lightly.
“Anytime you’re on terra firma — you’re in the homeland — it is damned important,” Maj. Gen. Vadnais said. “There’s nothing more important that we do than when it’s got something to do with home. And this is home.”
Flint residents picking up water Wednesday seemed grateful.
Some said they credit the exposure the crisis has received in national coverage for prompting the added resources and urgency.>>Inside woodtv.com:Gov. Snyder releases emails amid Flint water crisis
“First it was quiet,” said Willie Gilbert in an interview after picking up a case of water for his home. “But when a lot of people got involved, then you heard everything. That’s when the people started speaking out… It’s going to get better ’cause everybody’s involved now.”
Gilbert was among those hoping that President Barack Obama might intensify the spotlight with a visit Wednesday. Obama was in Detroit that day for the North American International Auto Show and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver asked that he visit Flint. It was not added to his plans.>>PDF: Timeline of events in Flint
“I don’t know why he doesn’t have his butt here!” Frances Kimmell-Lange said. “And how many people voted for him…”
The White House deputy press secretary did discuss Flint with reporters on the flight to Detroit.
“I saw the governor yesterday accepted responsibility. Clearly primary responsibility lies with local and state officials,” Eric Schultz reportedly told journalists aboard Air Force One Wednesday.
Snyder has also called on the legislature to approve $28 million in funding for Flint, and vowed to appeal a disaster aid request denied by President Obama.