By Susan Tompor,Kristen Jordan Shamus and Phoebe Wall Howard
Tesla CEO Elon Musk set off a tweet storm on the Flint water crisis Wednesday by suggesting he'd be willing to put some of his fortune on the line to help out families in Flint.
Yet will Musk really be bringing buckets of cash to Flint soon?
"Please consider this a commitment that I will fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels. No kidding," Musk stated in a tweet from his authorized Twitter account.
Musk was replying to a Tweet from @DylanSheaMusic who tried to rattle Musk by saying the buzz was that Musk would not be able to get clean water to Flint:
"Said you wouldn't be capable."
What the comments via Twitter really mean, of course, is yet to be seen. It's unclear why Musk mentioned the FDA, presumably the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, rather than the EPA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
A Tesla spokeswoman said she was not familiar with the tweet and could offer no additional comment.
Musk wrote a later tweet saying "For now, reply to my tweet with ppm & ppb test results & will send someone to install a water filter. Creating email firstname.lastname@example.org, but I'm in China so that won't be working until tomorrow."
The tweets have created a stir in Flint.
"We're super excited. He reaffirmed the generosity of this nation and their support for Flint," said Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a Hurley Medical Center pediatrician who was among the first whistle-blowers to prove lead contaminated Flint's drinking water in 2015. She now is the director of the Michigan State University-Hurley Children's Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative.
"We are really excited about his involvement in Flint's recovery," she said. "I think it would be amazing if he actually helped with jobs. That would be the best thing he could bring to Flint is jobs."
Hanna-Attisha even wondered whether Tesla could look at handling some manufacturing in Flint one day.
General Motors, of course, has a long deep history in Flint.
"We can do that in Flint. We know how to do that in Flint," Hanna-Attisha said.
"We have the space. It's cheap. We have the workforce. We have a revitalized, loyal and resilient community. That would help in our recovery more than anything else."
The tweets sparked a response from at least one city official as well.
Flint Council Member Eric Mays, who represents the city's First Ward, personally invited the billionaire to visit Flint.
"I invite Elon Musk to do something for the City of Flint now," Mays said late Wednesday in response to the tweet. "I invite him to come and communicate with the Council and find out what's going on in Flint, whether he actually donates a dime to any household. I don't think Elon Musk really understands the challenges that Flint faces. You had people die. We don't know what the future will hold. I don't want him just communicating on Twitter. I take Flint very seriously. And I'm not sure he's familiar with the details ... as far as the infrastructure and bacteria, not just per household but the whole community."
Mays said he would like to see Musk "live up to his commitment" in helping families in need.
"All of the problems are not fixed," Mays said. "There are problems beyond lead and copper."
(c)2018 the Detroit Free Press