Brown water contaminated with high levels of lead has been coursing through the pipelines of 100,000 resident homes in Flint, Michigan for the past two years now. Left with no other alternatives, the people of Flint drank it despite its smell, taste, and color.
They were constantly assured by officials that it was safe to drink.
Today, at least 100 children have tested positive for high levels of toxic lead in their blood which in many cases results in the irreversible effects of lead poisoning. Residents have developed rashes, hair loss, along with other severe health problems. And E. Coli bacteria was discovered in the water.
“My hair’s falling out. My blood tests are a mess,” Flint resident Melissa Mays told CBS news. “I was healthy.”
Before the water crisis, the people of Flint were already stricken with the struggles of poverty and local crime. About 41 percent of Flint residents live at or below the poverty line.
And because the city can’t afford to fund a full-fledged police force with the tools necessary to keep crime at bay, Flint residents live in the most dangerous city of the country. So much so that Flint has earned the nickname of Murder Town of America.
Poverty continued to dictate the lives of Flint residents as the call for finding a cheaper water source landed a spot on the money-saving agenda for the city, a decision that ultimately snowballed into the water crisis of today.
In April 2014, the water source in Flint was switched from Lake Huron to the local Flint River as a temporary water source until a regional water system was finished—a project that wouldn’t be completed until two years later in 2016.
There were complaints right away, but the crisis wasn’t acknowledged until much later by local and state officials in October 2015. By the time the Michigan National Guard arrived to relieve the city with bottled water, filters and testing kits, the damage had already been done to both the people and the pipes of the city.
Since Flint water is highly corrosive and since the water service lines in Flint contain lead, the water leached lead off the pipes and into residents’ homes. This could have been prevented if the city had not failed to properly treat the water by adding anti-corrosion chemicals into it.
Republican governor Rick Snyder promised a solution to the people of Flint during his annual State of the State speech.
“We are praying for you, we are working hard for you and we are absolutely committed to taking the right steps to effectively solve this crisis,” he said. “To you, the people of Flint, I say tonight as I have before: I am sorry, and I will fix it.”
Flint residents, however, weren’t convinced. Many rallied and protested against the governor, calling for his resignation. Many lost trust in their local government.