The water crisis in Flint, Michigan is the worst public disaster and act of environmental injustice I have witnessed in my home state. Lead-poisoned water for children and families vulnerable and without options. Could our government be so incompetent that it doesn’t even monitor the water supply that flows into a local community and affects nearly 100,000 Michigan citizens?
Flint was once a jewel of Michigan, a powerhouse for manufacturing jobs at a time when GM’s Buick and Chevrolet divisions employed tens of thousands local residents and supporting businesses were drawn to the area. By the late 1980s, GM closed several of its factories there, causing the city to sink into an economic depression which the city is still struggling to overcome. The recent water crisis, which it is clear that our state government knew about from the very beginning, only further demoralizes the city. The sadder reality is that the physical, developmental and physical disabilities Flint’s children will likely face can span over a lifetime.
Fortunately, when government officials failed to do their job of protecting these families, major businesses and other members of the private-sector responded with urgency and compassion. Companies like Walmart, Coco-Cola, Nestle, and PepsiCo joined in partnership to donate 6.5 million bottles of water to schoolchildren. Churches and local organizations have also donated clean drinking water and assistance. Even celebrities have stepped up to help, including singers Aretha Franklin and Kem. Aretha Franklin is donating food and 25-50 hotel rooms and Kem donated $10,000 to the Salvation Army for water filters and other needed support.
Clean water is a human right that communities, especially our children, deserve and most of us take it for granted. The inhumanity that some of our state officials have shown toward vulnerable residents cannot be overlooked by the people of Michigan. I am ashamed of our government but grateful to those of the private sector that acted swiftly in donating clean drinking water to sustain Flint’s families.