The mayor wouldn't talk to CNN on camera, but in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that was obtained by CNN, he says Region 5 "received soil sampling data in December of 2014, showing that lead contamination within the West Calumet Housing Complex is extremely more pervasive, severe, and extensive than identified by the EPA's prior inadequate sampling, yet failed to share such data with the city until May 24, 2016."
CNN made repeated requests to interview the EPA's Region 5 administrator, but those requests were denied. Instead, the EPA sent CNN this statement:
"In retrospect, with spikes in the preliminary data, we realize that with increased scrutiny of that initial data it could have triggered action to be taken sooner, instead of having to wait until the data was fully assessed. EPA will institute a process to review preliminary data to flag the need for immediate action."
As for the Indiana State Department of Health, why did the Allen family only receive young Samira's high blood lead level result last month? The ISDH told CNN that it cannot speak about specific cases but maintains that "it is the responsibility of the local health department to convey test results to patients and follow up with them. Direct communications of blood lead results with patients by the Indiana State Department of Health are outside the standard process but, if made, are intended only to supplement the work of local health departments."
The City of East Chicago points the finger back at the department, saying in a statement to CNN: "The State of Indiana withdrew funding for blood lead testing in 2011," which led to cuts to local programs. The city says it was checking the state database for excessive blood lead results, but the state was no longer updating that database, instead emailing results to outdated employee addresses.
In a follow-up statement to CNN, ISDH disputed these claims, saying the cuts in funding were federal and blood lead levels are emailed to health departments daily; others are available in a database.
State Sen. Lonnie Randolph lives in East Chicago, near the West Calumet Complex, and says he is determined to hold the responsible parties accountable. He says he needs the help of top brass in Indiana, including the Governor and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence.
"I'd like to see the governor come here, and I've talked with his office, and they've been here, and they indicated they're going to provide whatever we need and all that," Randolph said.
When asked whether the governor had visited West Calumet, Randolph said, "Not yet. Not yet. And I'm hoping he will, because I think with his presence, it'll give a lot of hope."
Randolph said the state has released $200,000 to help with the response at the West Calumet Complex.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has provided $1.9 million for rent vouchers and $400,000 for relocation specialists to help the Allen family and their 1,000 neighbors move to a safe neighborhood, according to agency spokesman Jereon Brown.
Little Samira was retested for lead, and her new reading is 6.7 micrograms per deciliter, still above the CDC level of concern of 5 micrograms per deciliter. Her siblings have readings ranging from 2.6 to 5.4 micrograms per deciliter.
For the 2-year-old, who has been exposed to a toxic substance her entire life, government inefficiency could have irreversible consequences.
When asked what she would say to those who knew of the dangerous lead she and her family were exposed to, Samira's mother didn't mince words.
"Shame on you. We're people. We're human people with families," Allen said. "How dare you keep this from us and just let our kids play in lead and arsenic soil? How dare you? Shame on you."