Flint still has no trust 6 years after fateful water switch

Published: Apr. 21, 2020 at 6:21 PM EDT
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(4/21/2020) - Saturday marks six years since Flint switched its drinking water source to the Flint River.

The decision led to contaminated tap water in homes across the city.

Lives forever changed. Countless children now beginning to show the effects of lead poisoning. Multiple people died of Legionnaires’ disease. And the community’s trust in their government is broken.

As they do most mornings in Flint, cars lined up to get bottled water Tuesday from a distribution site. The donation came from celebrity Hill Harper and the National Clean Water Collective.

"This right here is a blessing to give me the opportunity to get a couple bottles," said Janeen Layton, who lives in Flint.

The community is still grateful for the generosity of people from across the country. Countless water bottles have been shipped to Flint to help lift the financial burden from an already impoverished community.

"We're on a fixed income. So, we really need this and God bless the people helping us out with this," fellow resident Myra Dawson said.

People in Flint still use the water for everyday needs.

"You can't really brush your teeth or take your bath in the water; because at one time, me and my family was breaking out from the water," Dawson said.

Layton added, "It's really been frustrating; because I broke out with rashes and stuff from the water. I was worried about my youngest grandbaby at the time because I couldn't give him the water."

After multiple alarms were sounded, the drinking water source was switched in October 2015.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy continues to report the city's drinking water has tested well below the federal action levels of the Lead and Copper Rule for more than three years in a row.

But, that means nothing to a community that said their trust still hasn't been restored.

"I don't blame them at all," Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said.

He said lead service line replacement is 85% complete. Crews went back to work Monday restoring front yards and sidewalks damaged in the process.

"I can guarantee you this that when we talk about year 7, people are going to talk about 'remember when' we were undergoing the repair of this crisis," Neeley said.

The donated water will continue to be given out Wednesday and Thursday at the following locations:

-- St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church at 3020 Dupont St. from noon to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

-- St. Luke's New Life Center at 3115 Lawndale Ave. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.

-- Martus/Luna Food Pantry at 2101 Lewis St. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday.