Today we arrived at 11:45 am in Flint, Michigan and immediately were met with the realities the community in Flint, Michigan have been facing of the last year and a half. If case if you havn't heard Flint's water has been poisoning thousands with lead in their water since April 2014 when the city's water was switched from Detroit's system to the water in the Flint River, where almost immediately residents started complaining about the taste and discoloration of the water. Over the last few months the Flint water crisis has arisen in mainstream media and has showcased how dollars are more important to the govornment than to the lives of citizens because thousands have been poisoned including 10 people that have died from bacterial infections that were found in the Flint area. Here is an update from my perspective on our trip and service to Flint today.
We arrived into Flint, Michigan only to see the discoloration of the Flint River before we got to Greater Holy Temple, the church we did service with today. Right when we pulled in, we were greeted with the warm face of Mama Jones. Before we even got to park the van, we saw an enormous collection of cases of bottled water that filled up the parking lot of the church. Near the church, there was some soldiers from the National Guard that were handing out cases and cases of water to Flint residents, which is what we would eventually be doing.
We met up with Mama Jones and she explained what exactly we would be doing today. We were going up to a garage, (it was more like a barn, big building) to load water and food into residents cars. This water was different that the water the National Guard was passing out, because it was considered "loose." These were cases that were either opened and put in boxes or that were still in their cases, but were considered open. There were also big boxes that had gallons and gallons or water both drinking and purified which was specifically supposed to go out to families with small children or infants. Our responsibility was to give 8 cases of water per household, which was important because some residents came and were picking up water for their neighbors, so we sometimes had to load 24 cases of water into some people's trucks including sometime's a half dozen plus gallons of water. Every household would also recieve a bag of potatoes, which we were told would mitigate the effect of lead, and a bag of snacks. Residents also recieved baby wipes and formula if residents had small children.
The first hour we were there giving residents water and food, it was moderately slow, but from 1-2 P.M. we nearly always had 3-4 cars that were getting loaded up at once. One thing I noticed is that the residents were very gracious of what the church was providing them, and of the help we were giving them by insisting to load it in their car. I would not have guessed that this watercrisis was happening from the reception the residents were exuting. I started to think about if this happened where I lived and how I would react, I must say that it would be much different than what I saw today, but what I saw was a community, a church and the people coming together to make the best of this situation and grow closer together than ever.
I talked to Floyd who is a driver of the forklift at the church and we debated about how long that it would take for the water crisis to be over. Floyd explained to me that there are vast amounts of piping that needs to be replaced and that he had heard that it is estimated that there wont be safe or clean water access for another 2 to 3 years in Flint.
Think about that. Three years without having access to use water to brush your teeth, bathe in, or just take a drink of water from your faucet. The cricis was best explained by Bishop Davis from Greater Holy Temple
"We are free to make choices, but we're not free from consequences.
Consequences outweigh choices."
The resident's of Flint are the onces suffering the consequences that were made from the choice of saving a few dollars by the Michigan govornment.
The community of Flint are suffering the consequences...