Words by Sierra Holmes
The crisis over lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan has reached a worldwide audience and prompted millions of dollars in donations, evacuations and even a state of emergency in December.
More than two months later, Flint residents are still being warned to not drink or bathe in the lead poisoned water because of the health dangers that it can cause.
According to a class-action lawsuit, the state Department of Environmental Quality wasn’t treating the Flint River water with an anti-corrosive agent, in violation of federal law. Therefore, the water was eroding water mains, turning water brown.
According to the World Health Organization, lead poisoning is irreversible and can cause dramatic changes in children.
Pediatrician at Flint’s Hurley Medical Center, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha says that this contaminated water can affect the IQs of children.
“If you were to put something in a population to keep them down for generation and generations to come, it would be lead,” Hanna-Attisha said. “It’s a well-known, potent neurotoxin. There’s tons of evidence on what lead does to a child, and it is one of the most damning things that you can do to a population. It drops your IQ, it affects your behavior, it’s been linked to criminality, and it has multigenerational impacts. There is no safe level of lead in a child.”
While many are pointing fingers and playing the blame game, a number of organizations around the world have been donating money in hopes to help the residents of Flint until this crisis can be tamed. On top of the millions of dollars in government aid, nonprofit and faith-based organizations, numerous companies, celebrities, and many other individuals all have donated to Flint in the form of money and/or bottles of water.
Multiple colleges and universities across the country have donated to Flint. Rayvon Williams, treasurer of the Black Student Association at Ball State University says they collected water donations for Flint, “It’s the right thing to do. We have to come together and do what we can.”
Indianapolis native and salon owner Angel Hicks collected over 20 cases of water and delivered them to Flint.
“It’s unfortunate how Americans are being treated. I love how the residents of Flint are not trying to let this die. It’s hard to believe this is going on 4.5 hours up the highway. As a mother I think of the children. That part saddens me the most.”
Hicks isn’t the only Hoosier willing to help. Brent Lyle, who has no prior ties to Flint says that his only connection is at the heart-level. He doesn’t want to see people go through devastating situations if there’s something that he can do about it.
Lyle created the #IndyLOVESFlint movement. The purpose is to meet the immediate needs of a city that lacks the most basic resource, water.
“Human beings are about 70% water, and their city water is unhealthy. That means they are unhealthy and I am my Brother’s keeper, so I must help.” Lyle said. “Throughout January, I had seen countless articles describing a horrible situation of lead poisoning happening in Flint. This was the result of several bad decisions and unwillingness to act quickly to fix it. This felt like political corruption, economic hardship, and lightweight genocide. My water is clean and safe, we both live in America, so theirs should be too. I felt like it was simple enough to round some up and deliver it.”
That is exactly what he did. Lyle said that with the help of Indianapolis, he delivered over 30,000 bottles of water to Flint. He also collected thousands of sanitary wipes, and hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizer in two semi truck trailers on Friday, February 19th.
“It was humbling to see the abandoned apartment complexes, nearly empty strip malls, dilapidated houses, and Water Distribution Centers run by the National Guard all through the city. But we were surprisingly encouraged by the cheerfulness of the residents of Flint. They are optimistic about the future and are doing their best to survive this tragic ordeal,” said Lyle.
Celebrities such as Michigan native Big Sean, Cher, Meek Mill, Pearl Jam, P Diddy, Madonna, NFL and NBA players and more have donated to Flint. Wal-Mart has also delivered 6.5 million bottles of water to the schools in Flint.
Since the beginning of January, state representatives say that nearly 200,000 cases of water have been donated along with nearly 100,000 water filters and 30,000 water-testing kits.
Officials say that the residents’ needs have not been met and they are continuing efforts until the residents have clean drinking water accesible from the taps in their homes safely.