Tragedy and Unification: Flint Water Crisis

 

Columbus, OH (TFC) – Each day we are presented with examples of where we are as a country. In these examples we are able to see two clear sides. The side of good and the side of evil. What is taking placing in Flint Michigan is no different. Be prepared to see the horrors of what our elite are capable of and then equally see the power of the people.

Photo credit: Ifab, Flckr.

Photo credit: Ifab, Flckr.

Flint Michigan has a population of close to 100,000 people. In April of 2014 these citizens were unknowingly being exposed to and poisoned by something we all take for granted. One of the few things that is required for us to live, water. The city was making the switch from Detroit Water to the new $223,000,000 Lake Huron sourced KWA (Karegnondi Water Authority). This move was to save to $5,000,000 over 2 years. With this plan, the contract they had with Detroit for over 50 years would terminate in April 2014. The problem was that the construction of the new KWA source would not be completed until June 2016.  Rather than renewing the contract with Detroit, they looked for a temporary alternative. The one they chose was to hook the city of Flint up to the Flint River. This is where the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality comes into play. They are responsible for drinking water safety and regulation. They would be the ones to foresee any problems with the water in making this switch as well as implementing all safety measures to ensure the water is clean and safe. The Flint River water is highly corrosive. That corrosion is what caused the lead to leech from the old pipes and slowly begin poisoning this community. There were chemicals that should have been added to this type of water in order to prevent this. It is still unclear as to why this wasn’t done. It is being speculated that the extra chemicals were not added in order to keep costs down. So the one agency in charge of the drinking water did one of the following; agreed to this cost cutting measure, did not regulate the treatment of the water, or wasn’t intelligent enough to know the consequences of their actions. The gross negligence to human life being brought to light throughout so many agencies and individuals who had a hand in this is nothing short of tragic. Even when the EPA, MDEQ, the city, the mayor, the governor, and many more were being presented with cases of high levels of lead effecting residents they initially ignored and dismissed these complaints. However, behind closed doors the finger pointing blame game was in full force. Since the poisoning began, we have seen a public health state of emergency, 8 lawsuits, several investigations, resignation of four government officials, firing of one, and a suspension and investigation of another. The government has its hand in every aspect of our lives. There is nothing we touch, see, purchase, or enjoy that doesn’t somehow send a kick back to the system. The payoff is supposed to be security, order, and a safety net coddling our overall well-being. Sadly, this does not take precedent. Money and power do. The folks up in Flint are currently the latest target of what the system values more. The move that has poisoned a community was created to save money.

Photo credit: Nic Antaya, Flckr.

Photo credit: Nic Antaya, Flckr.

There is no one person to blame for what has happened. These agencies are set up to work together. They have yet to solve the problem. They did make an emergency $12,000,000 switch back to the Detroit system, called in Red Cross and the national guard to hand out bottles of water, and distributed water filters to thousands of households that later proved to be ineffective anyway. So where does that leave the residents currently? Between 6,000-12,000 children have been exposed to this lead poisoning by drinking, bathing or their laundry. Lead poisoning affects children more than adults as they are still growing and the lead is absorbed faster. It attacks many systems in the body. Some of the effects are being seen in these children already and some are permanent issues which they will deal with for the rest of their lives. These problems range from vomiting, seizures, skin rashes, behavioral problems, hearing problems, kidney damage, reduced IQ, slowed body growth, abdominal pain, aggressive behavior, anemia, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and loss of previous developmental skills. These are only a few of the things that this tragedy will leave in its path. The families affected by this lead poisoning are forever changed. Children are literally having the possibility of living a normal life, with a healthy future, destroyed. And aside from the personal stories, the families who will now struggle with disabled, sick children, we must also acknowledge the effect this will have on society as a whole. Generations of children and families who will need special attention at school, be prone to behavior problems and depression. The high possibilities of divorce, suicide, drug and alcohol addictions, prison, long term counseling and so many other situations come to mind. This is why when you hear the people of Flint have it really “bad”, you need to look way beyond their need for a fresh drink. There is a much bigger picture to consider. In the meantime we need to deal with what we can at the moment. And that is to limit the amount of any further exposure to this poison and try to preserve quality of life as best we can. This is where we take a side step from looking at the evil and now get to speak on the good.

When humans on this planet face crisis, time and time again we get to witness the most beautiful selfless acts of kindness in their purest form. There have been countless people, organizations, businesses, and communities who have picked up the slack where the government is failing. These selfless actions have given the citizens of Flint the lifeline they needed. Thousands of gallons of water have been delivered to Flint over the last few months alone. Ohio is now being added to that list. The mission that has been put together is called Ohio to Michigan: Flint Water Drop. There is a convoy set to start in Cincinnati, merge with vehicles in Dayton and Toledo then end in Flint. From the convoy to organizing, including donations, people have united in the cause of coming to the aid of a community. The idea was to enlist as many people and groups as possible from around Ohio to collect fresh water and deliver it via convoy to the residents of Flint. The event has gained support from III%, militia, Anonymous, mini-van moms, employers, churches, and everyone in between. We the People uniting to do the right thing, no questions asked. Within a week or so of the Op hitting the internet and many phone calls, other states wanted to get on board. What initially began as a statewide effort has now stretched through 7 other states, 9 states total if you count Ohio and Michigan. This example of the people coming together is nothing short of amazing but it isn’t surprising. This is what people do when our fellow citizens are in need. In the spirit of America as being a generous, loving, humble people we once again are showing the world that We the People are the only true representatives of what this country stands for. If you would like to join in this effort there are many ways you can support the folks in Flint. Water donations are being accepted through various forms and anyone is welcome to join the actual convoy. Flint Michigan, Ohio knows your struggle and will not let it go unnoticed. Ohio and many surrounding states are dedicated to getting you aid and are working on follow up plans to see that this situation is rectified and exposed to the fullest. There is more going on than what meets the eye. To the people of Flint, your southern neighbors are standing with you and fighting for you.