Gov. Eric Holcomb made his first visit as governor to East Chicago Friday to meet with residents and community leaders in the lead-contaminated community.
Former Gov. Mike Pence denied the city’s request for an emergency declaration back in December. Among his first executive orders as governor, Holcomb granted the emergency aid.
“This is my watch. And I reviewed all the facts, as they were,” Holcomb says. “There’s a new administration.”
A team from the governor’s office will remain in East Chicago to help coordinate clean-up and resident relocation.
Holcomb says industrial contamination is a national issue.
“We need to get this right – not just for the people, that’s the most important, but we could be a model or template on how to move forward if you find yourself in this situation,” Holcomb says.
East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland says he’s excited by the efforts Holcomb has made in his first 30 days as governor.
“I’m one to not harp on spilled milk that done dried up – I look forward, towards the future,” Copeland says. “As you can see, the representation in that room, that there’s some big hearts there and everyone is going to come together as a team. It’s not for me to second guess anyone at this time.”
U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) says Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has committed to getting HUD resources to East Chicago as quickly as possible.
“The funds will be there to make sure that that happens. In addition, we have emergency funding that will be coming to the East Chicago Housing Authority,” Donnelly says. “It’s a significant amount of emergency funding that HUD has actually said, ‘We will approve this as soon as we get all of this.’”
The governor says he’s visiting Washington D.C. late next week to meet with the new Environmental Protection Agency administrator and Carson.