At the Michigan Nurses Association conference taking place in Lansing this week, residents of Flint got up to talk about the ongoing catastrophe happening in their city – the so-called “Flint Water Crisis”. Calling this situation a “crisis” is, in fact, understating the problem. The women who spoke and later talked in-depth to my wife Anne described how very little has changed since their drinking water became poisoned with the powerful neurotoxin lead, the direct result of decisions made by appointed Emergency Managers over two years ago.
- Children already showing signs of behavioral disturbances resulting from lead poisoning.
- Lack of “easy” access to bottled water now that the federal “emergency” has been declared over and the National Guard no longer assisting with water deliveries.
- Pregnant women having an inordinate number of miscarriages.
- Undocumented immigrants unable to obtain bottled water for fear of being deported because they must show and ID at water distribution sites.
- Corroded water lines inside the house now leaking and slowly destroying the home itself.
- Hot water heaters and other water-using appliances ruined and rendered unusable by the corrosive Flint River water pumped through them for months.
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in residents young and old who no longer trust any person or any group, particularly the state government.
In short, nothing about this “crisis” has been improved for them. In fact, because the eyes of the country have turned away, they feel things are in some ways worse.
They feel abandoned.
Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s admission that Flint’s drinking water was poisoned. (NOTE: It will be Day 366 since 2016 is a Leap Year.) During that time, only 171 lead service lines have been replaced. Initial estimates were that up to 10,000 lines would need to be replaced but an analysis of the 171 lines dug up for inspection showed that, instead of 40% of them being made of lead, a full 96% were lead. That means instead of 10,000 lines needing replacement, as many as 25,000 of them will need to be. That also means that, after a year of little no action, only 0.7% of them have been replaced.
It also shows that the initial estimate that it would cost $27 million to replace the lead water service lines was woefully inadequate.
This past week, after dithering for nearly a year, Congress finally allocated $170 million to helping Flint resolve its infrastructure problems. And that came only after Democrats, led by Michigan Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee and Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, threatened to shut down the federal government. GOP House Leader Mitch McConnell disgustingly described Democrats’ action to force action to help the beleaguered city after months upon months of stalling by Republicans “election-year politics”. After McConnell reached an agreement with Democrats on the funding, his Republican colleague Rep. Bill Flores of Texas, in an even more disgusting comment, criticized McConnell saying he was “caving in to [Democrats’] irresponsible behavior by surrendering important conservative policies.”
Conservative policy appears to be allowing a majority-African American community to enter year number three without safe drinking water with no action from the federal government.
Tomorrow, Saturday, October 1st, on the one-year anniversary of Gov. Snyder’s admission of a problem in Flint, activists from around the state will gather in Ann Arbor to conduct what they are calling “Operation #Flint365”. This action has the goal of 10,000 person-to-person engagements between residents of Flint and Michigan Citizens, “increasing the awareness of all citizens in Michigan, and nationwide, of what really is happening or not happening in Flint, and creating positive change for the people of Flint.”
I have seen their plan and it is impressive, doable, and has a high probability of raising awareness nationally.
The event will take place from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. and they need your help. First, they need funding to help offset the costs of the action. If you’d like to make a financial contribution, click HERE. Any money raised beyond what is needed for the action will split by the advocacy group Flint Rising and FlintKids.org, a group working to put long-term support in place for the children of Flint who have been so tragically impacted by the poisoning of their water.
Second, if you’d like to get personally involved in Saturday’s action itself, send an email to OpFlint365@gmail.com. Also, follow OpFlint365 on Twitter for ongoing updates on the action in Ann Arbor as well as elsewhere. Finally, there are Facebook event pages for the Ann Arbor event and action in Flint, as well.
If you’re attending the University of Michigan football game in Ann Arbor tomorrow, you should also be on the lookout for an airplane banner being flown around by Progress Michigan:
It’s understandable why the rest of the country thinks things are being resolved in Flint. It is beyond belief that this tragedy could have gone on for so long with virtually no action taken to rescue the residents of Flint. But that, sadly, is the reality.
You can be very sure that Flint will not be forgotten on Eclectablog and you can count on ongoing reporting here for the coming months and years.