FLINT, Mich. (WOOD) — Visiting Flint on Sunday as it deals with a water crisis, Rev. Jesse Jackson described the city as a “crime scene.”
“Flint is now a crime scene,” the well-known civil rights activist said. “The emergency is a disaster zone. Put yellow tape around the whole city.”
He was addressing a crowd of at least 100 people at Heavenly Host Church of the Harvest.
“The people of Flint have been betrayed. They’ve been given poisoned water and told that it was pure when it was corrosive and sick,” Jackson said.
Flint’s water troubles have been ongoing for nearly two years, but the situation has gained national attention only in recent weeks.
The problem is that after Flint switched its water source to the Flint River, highly corrosive water drew lead from the city’s aging pipes. There were complaints about the look, smell and taste of the water, and tests revealed elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. Flint switched back to Detroit’s system to source its water in October, but the damage to the pipes had already been done and the tap water remains unsuitable for drinking.
“Unfortunately, because our voices were muted for so long, so many families like mine are dealing with heavy metals poisoning, autoimmune disorders, skin disorders, and all sorts of ailments and illnesses from the water,” Flint resident Melissa Mays said.
Donations of bottled water have been streaming in from across the state and given to the city’s residents. Between Jan. 9 and Jan 16, some 20,800 cases of bottled water and 47,900 water filters were distributed, according to a Sunday release from the state.
“We use bottled water for cooking, brushing our teeth, washing our faces, rinsing off vegetables,” Mays said.
She is involved with “Water You Fighting For” — a Flint-based group that aims to bring awareness to the city’s current situation.
Jackson, along with many others, now placing blame for the crisis with Gov. Rick Snyder. The city was under the control of an emergency manager he appointed when it switched to the Flint River for its water in an effort to cut costs.
“It’s his responsibility,” Jackson said.
The city, county and state have already declared emergencies in the area. Saturday, President Barack Obama signed an emergency order that would make more federal aid available to the city of 99,000.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is helping to provide assistance while the Environmental Protection Agency investigates the matter.
HOW YOU CAN HELP FLINT RESIDENTS
The United Way of Genesee County is taking donations to pay for bottled water, filters and prevention efforts in Flint. Donations can be made online.
The Plainwell High School Interact Club is hosting a water drive through Feb. 5. Donations of gallons and bottled water may be dropped off at any Plainwell school office, as well as these locations:
- Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, located at 1289 W. M-89; from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Gun Plain Township Office, located at 381 8th St.; from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
- Ameriprise Financial, located at 102 N. Main St., Suite A; from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday.