FLINT, Mich. (WOOD) — Jim Ananich lives in one of the areas of Flint with the highest suspected concentrations of lead in the water.
He has been trying for months to get government to do something about the problem and has finally been successful. His voice was heard because he was relentless — and because he is the leader of the Democrats in the state Senate.
Sen. Ananich knows firsthand how betrayed the people of Flint feel.
“The reason why, in large part, I’m so passionate about it is I know that people were told everything was fine because I was one of those people, and they drank it through no fault of their own and now there are consequences potentially for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Speaking with 24 Hour News 8 on Monday at a Flint fire station as a steady stream of people dropped off donations of bottled water and residents picked it up, Ananich talked about why finding out how the water contamination happened is important so it doesn’t happen again here or somewhere else.
“That’s why I’ve resisted calling for specific individuals to resign because I think it’s important to get to the bottom of what happened and then hold people accountable,” he said.
He added, “Who knew what where, I think that’s important, but how did this happen within the drinking water division with the DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality)? How could they have gotten it so wrong? And we’re seeing FOIAs (Freedom of Information Act requests) where is suggests they knew about it and didn’t tell anybody. How can that culture have been created?”
The bottom line, he said, is to “make sure you find out the how before the who and then make sure it never happens again.”
On the up side, supplies are coming in at a brisk pace to meet the needs of residents and more than $100 million in state and federal funds is also in the process of being delivered. Knowing people are finally paying attention makes the Flint senator a little more comfortable.
“I stressed a sense of urgency before,” Ananich said “We’ve had some disagreements about how quickly they’ve responded but now … I think that there is good access to water, water testing kits and filters.”
It appears the short-term, immediate needs of Flint are being met. But Ananich said that is just the beginning and that a long-term commitment of money and support is the only thing that will ultimately fix the contamination issue that has hit the city so hard.