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Flint residents say city’s $20 million water crisis settlement won’t right any wrongs

Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 7:00 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Hours after the Flint City Council approved a $20 million settlement for water crisis lawsuits, residents say no amount of money can repay the hurt and damage they suffered.

”Maybe this is a starting point, but I need to hear more information on what you’re going to do in five years, what are you going to do when these children become 17 or 18 years of age and they have still some disability,” said Flint resident Nita Graham.

She has five grandchildren and understands the proposed $641.2 million settlement will offer financial relief for victims of the water crisis. But she also knows that nobody can buy their way out of the problem, which will carry long-term consequences.

“If we had been a different community, it never would have taken this long,” Graham said. “Those issues have to be addressed.”

The Flint City Council approved a deal around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday for the city’s insurers to add $20 million to the $641.2 million settlement fund. All of the city’s proposed share would come from insurance companies and not include any taxpayer funds.

Joining the settlement also means the city will avoid having to defend former employees and emergency managers for their alleged roles in the water crisis.

“They terrorized our community, they terrorized our city. That was like chemical warfare,” said Flint resident Jabari Billingsley. “That was terrorism on our own soil.”

A vast majority of the multi-million dollar settlement -- 80% -- will go to kids exposed to Flint’s lead tainted water. A federal judge will decide whether to approve the settlement next month and set up a process for disbursing the money before any residents receive their share.

“It’s a bitter pill when you don’t have confidence in the long term,” Graham said.

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