By: Emily Balogh, Staff Writer
At this point, it is irresponsible for our current government administration (local and federal) and the citizens of America to continue to ignore the humanitarian and health crisis occurring right now in Flint, Mich. America has turned a blind eye on the Flint crisis, pushing the story out of news cycles in favor of harder-selling stories for years. We cannot forget the people of Flint and the hardships they face daily.
Since 2014, Flint residents have not had access to clean water. I need not mention that it is 2019,far too much time has passed for this issue to be unresolved. In a country where clean water is often not a top national priority, this may seem foreign to some Americans, which is perhaps why the residents of Flint have received little to no help over the four years of this crisis. To imagine an American city where residents have to ration something as simple as water may seem like a dystopian story, but it is happening right now.
The lack of clean water in Flint is not just making showering, drinking and cooking difficult, it is also affecting the health of its residents. Many residents report having contracted rashes and mysterious illnesses from exposure to the lead-polluted water. In fact, at least 87 people died due to an outbreak of Legionnaires Disease, a direct result of the polluted water. These deaths and illnesses were completely preventable, but America allowed the city of Flint to fall to pieces and become unsafe and near uninhabitable. As a reminder, lead consumption can affect the heart, kidneys and nerves. In children, it can cause impaired cognition, delayed puberty, hearing problems and behavioral disorders: continued exposure to lead is a guaranteed health risk for residents of Flint.
President Trump, the Environmental Protection Agency and local Flint officials should work together to devise a plan to reroute the city’s water source to a safer origin. They also need to communicate with members of the community to determine reparations and decide how to rebuild Flint to its original state. They need to reform how emergencies like this are handled. For example, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission has affirmed that laws such as the emergency manager law disproportionately hurt communities of color. Such laws should be amended, and in the meantime, our government should resolve this emergency — not that they have not had four years to do so.
We must keep advocating for Flint. To offer financial support, please consider donating to the Flint Water Study, a group of independent researchers who study Flint’s tap water and inform residents of lead levels and their impacts. In addition, you can donate to the United Way of Genesee County’s Flint Water fund, where 100 percent of the money goes to purchasing filters, bottled water, support services and prevention efforts for Flint residents.