Key advisor on Flint water crisis: ‘Things getting back to normal’

City has been dealing with lead contamination of drinking water

The Flint Water Plant tower is seen, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 in Flint, Mich. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The governor’s point person for the Flint water crisis, Harvey Hollis, says “things are getting back to normal” in the city dealing with lead contamination of its drinking water. But he also says there is a major lesson the Snyder administration should learn from dealing with the crisis.

Hollis, through most of the Flint water crisis, has been on the front lines for the governor but clearly in the background when the media is around. But during a chance meeting with Tim Skubick, the capitol correspondent for WOOD TV8’s Lansing sister station WLNS, Hollis offered an update on why normalcy is returning to Flint:

  • Local power restored
  • State oversight
  • Water tests are better
  • KWA pipeline soon

Hollis says another critical element of the recovery remains a major challenge: convincing the citizens to trust state government again.

“What needs to occur is developing and building trust. That’s going to be a long task,” he said.

That job is so big it sometimes keeps him up nights.

“Yes, it does and I can’t blame them for feeling the way they do,” he said.

Gov. Rick Snyder was asked if the state had turned the corner on the crisis. He was not ready to say that just yet.

“I would say we are in recovery,” the governor said. “There is still a lot of work to get done. We need to still get the lead pipe removals, the water is still in filter condition not coming out of the tap directly in terms being safe to drink. So there is extra steps to be taken and we are going to stay committed all the way through.”

Hollis is not sure when residents can use unfiltered water, but he knows that when the government says it is safe, the locals will not believe it.

When the governor ran for office, he asserted that his administration would be data-driven, but Hollis says you also have to factor in the human element.

He said the Snyder administration needs “to pay attention to the concerns of people who are living in these communities, to not just let science have the final say-so … Also to look past the scientists to see there really is a problem.”

“You have to look beyond the data and see people. That’s our public service,” he continued.

The governor’s critics contend he did not initially do that.

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