Mother wrestling with decision on Flint water money: ‘Something is better than nothing’

The decision to register for a share of the settlement isn’t clear-cut for many residents
Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 7:49 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - It’s deadline day: The last day for Flint residents to either opt in or opt out of the multi-million dollar water crisis settlement.

It was a difficult decision for many. Some say the dollar amount just isn’t enough, but they’re worried they’ll miss out if they don’t sign up now.

One Flint mother grappled with the decision and ultimately decided to opt in. Cynthia Haynes said her son was just 6 years old when he was poisoned by Flint’s lead-tainted water.

She believes the $641.2 million settlement falls short of what people are owed, but she said something is better than nothing.

”It altered my life, because I had gotten hired at Chrysler in Detroit, but because of the simple fact of his doctors -- I had to be here for all the doctors, had to be here for all the appointments, had to be here for all the paperwork,” Haynes said.

She felt ashamed, embarrassed and angered over the amount of the Flint water settlement, which currently includes $641.2 million.

“I made every appointment. Every appointment. He was on three different types of medications, he was in the hospital twice with pneumonia in Hurley. It was rough. The mental capacity, it was rough,” Haynes said. “So yes, I opted in because I figure something is better than nothing.”

Haynes says her son, who is now 11 and autistic, still has learning disabilities because of the lead poisoning. He also had severe behavior problems in school, often threatening to kill other students.

Haynes said a cocktail of medications have helped to stabilize him, but it took some time.

“We’re dealing with the hurtfulness on top of what’s going to be for the future?” she said. “I understand the focus was on the children, but we also had adults.”

As hard as it is and has been, Haynes said the community has to move forward, but doing so will not come overnight -- nor will it be easy. She is very passionate about what’s happened in her city.

The registration deadline to receive a portion of the Flint water settlement fund is 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 29. Click here for a link to the online registration form.

After this deadline passes, the claims process moves into the next phase. There will be a 30-day waiting period before folks will be asked to submit their claims with evidence of how they were affected, which can be as simple as proof of living in Flint while the city was using water from the Flint River.

A third party will go through those claims and decide what each claimant should be awarded. There will be an appeals process for people who disagree with how much they are slated to receive from the settlement.

The money could be dished out as early as August.

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