Years ago I lived a few miles north of where I live now, in the city of Flint Michigan. You’ve probably heard of it. Last year it came to light that the pipes connecting many of the homes to their water supply were corroded and the water was contaminated with lead. Many children in the city tested positive for lead poisoning.
The water crisis garnered national attention. Presidential candidates visited promising to help. CNN arrived and interviewed residents. Congressional hearings were held. Celebrities donated thousands of bottles of clean water.
We were all outraged.
The tainted water had already been running into households for more than a year back then. And now it’s been more than a year since. This is what being local to Flint means today:
I heard this week that a grant has been won by the city of Flint to help resolve the problem. Some pipes have been replaced, others have been coated with something to stop the corrosion. A few families now have clean water.
Many still do not.
And most people there don’t trust that their water will ever be safe to drink. After all, they’d been told it was safe before and now their children are poisoned. Their future is uncertain.
There are no easy solutions, but I can not imagine using bottled water for everything. For washing dishes, for bathing children, for cooking.
I’m not proud of the fact that these images define local in a city just up the road. That we seem to have forgotten, moved on with our lives, assumed someone was doing something to fix the problem. Someone else.
But this is still the reality of ‘local’ in Flint Michigan.
October 16, 2016 at 3:40 pm
Our outrage and concern never seems to last quite long enough.
October 16, 2016 at 6:09 pm
We have short memories, and another outrageous event happens and we’re off in a new direction.
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October 16, 2016 at 4:10 pm
It is shocking that in a “first world ” country the government can’t provide the basics like clean water. I hope Flint’s infrastructure issues are resolved soon. So, so wrong that this is happening.
October 16, 2016 at 6:10 pm
Members of State Government knew for more than a year that there was probably a problem and didn’t do anything. And now everyone is covering everyone’s well….you know…Meanwhile the people are still lugging bottled water home.
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October 16, 2016 at 4:27 pm
Some “mothers of flint” came to visit my area this past week. The town next to ours has tainted water caused by a plastics plant contaminating water sources with PFOAs for years. People and pets in that town are dying of cancer at alarming rates, and the DEC knew about it for a year before they advised residents to not drink the water. A year!
The Flint mothers came here to show support and give advice. I listened to them speak on the radio. One woman was also a teacher in Flint. She of having a classroom full of children who are unable to remember what she has said, even after she has said it three times. It made me so sad. I’ve had many students with lead poisoning over the years, but I cannot fathom having an entire classroom of poisoned children! A whole generation…..awful. What will their future hold?
The Flint mothers were very inspiring to our local residents. Their main advice was to be loud and keep being heard, because so often we simply move on to the next news story.
They tested our schools’ water for lead this week. Anxious to hear the results. Having well water, I actually think about the safety (and quantity in this drought) of my water quite often. I think many more people are drinking contaminated water than we realize.
October 16, 2016 at 6:12 pm
Oh Sara. I wish this wasn’t happening anywhere else. Yet I bet it’s happening far more than we realize. Safe water should be a given in every community in the world…and certainly in this country.
October 16, 2016 at 5:47 pm
such an awful and unbelievable thing to happen.
October 16, 2016 at 6:13 pm
I know. And to STILL be happening. It was all about money…the city decided to get their water from a different source that would save money…and this is the result.
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October 17, 2016 at 12:04 pm
Thanks for the update, Dawn. I suppose it’s human nature to feel outrage, despair, sadness, etc. over news like this, then to shove it to the back of our mind when something else comes along to demand our attention. Still, for the people living in Flint, how sad that the situation hasn’t been resolved, that they must live in fear over their and their children’s health.
October 17, 2016 at 4:40 pm
It’s very sad. The Senate has promised to get help for Flint…but so far nothing.
October 17, 2016 at 3:04 pm
I can’t imagine having to use bottled water for everything either. So many of these terrible things that outrage us (and then we forget about when we move on to the next terrible thing) seem to involve greed.
Well done on this week’s prompt. Thank you for reminding us that all is not resolved just because we don’t see it in the news anymore.
October 17, 2016 at 4:43 pm
It’s not as important, apparently, as the presidential election with all it’s nastiness. Not good TV I guess. There are still people working on it and progress is moving ahead, though very slowly.