Water filters given out to Flint residents

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FLINT (WJRT) - (10/03/15) - After weeks, and in some cases months, of worrying about their water, there was finally some relief Saturday for people living in Flint.

More than 2,700 water filters were handed out to Flint residents.

The beginning of the day started with those most at risk for lead contamination. Then, the health department quickly opened it up to all city residents.

"I'm very happy I got here," said Sierra Booker, who has a 1 year old daughter.

"It's all about my babies. I don't care about me, but it's all about them," said Latoya Brooks, the mother of two young sons.

"It's a huge relief to get off my shoulders because now I can be drinking the water at my home and not have to worry about the lead," said Jennifer Mathers, who's pregnant.

The looks on their faces said it all. Most people leaving the University of Michigan-Flint's Recreation Center on Saturday after receiving a water filter were happy.

"The highest risk populations are going to be pregnant women, young infants that are either formula fed or breast fed and children five and under," said Mark Valacak, head of the Genesee County Health Department.

The Genesee County Health Department, along with United Way and many other groups, organized the giveaway.

Valacak said putting the water filter distribution together, even in such a short time, was a no-brainer.

"Our primary responsibility is population health. It's assuring the population of Genesee County is protected from environmental health dangers. And this is clearly one," he said.

The filters attach to a faucet and are National Sanitation Foundation certified to remove lead. It takes about three months before they need a new cartridge - a reminder that some Flint residents feel this is just a short-term solution.

"I appreciate this, that they're doing this, but it shouldn't have come to this, it shouldn't have came down to this. It should be them taking more action and getting us cleaner water instead of filters," said Heather Foust, who has two young children.

"It's good for a short time, but there needs to be something that's provided for long term," Brooks said.

Others are just grateful to be taking home the filters and hope that more help will come in solving Flint's water crisis.

"It just makes me feel like people actually care about Flint and the city's actually going to get a little better," said Sada Brandt, who has a 2 year old daughter.

"I know that the, the solution's just around the corner. I mean, things happen, at least they're working on it, you know? They're trying to help us out, they're trying to work on things. I mean, things will get better," said Joshua Freeman, who has a 5 month old daughter.

The health department said they'll announce next week what they plan to do with the remaining 1,300 filters.

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