Flint, Michigan has continuously made headlines over the past few months due to levels of poison found in their water supply. Since our first report, there has been an outpouring of donations and support, and legislative decisions have been made. Still, poisonous pipes run throughout the city and faucet water is still undrinkable. Citizens continue to question what will be done to correct the problem, and remain deeply concerned about the future of their health and mortality.
Steve Harvey held a special one-hour discussion with Flint residents and community leaders including Flint City Councilman Wantwaz Davis, Mayor Karen Weaver, and Senator Jim Ananich. The episode spotlighted the man-made disaster, giving the residents of Flint a voice to a national audience. “Steve had tears in his eyes, he stated that he was hurt, shocked and angry at what was going on,” said Chia Morgan, The Steve Harvey Show guest, community activist, and lifelong Flint resident.
Harvey made a powerful plea for citizens to focus on their children. “They are letting ya’ll die, because they are going to let the city die. And ya’ll are the city.” Harvey continued to say, “We have to start thinking about getting out. We have to really think about getting your kids out of there.”
Many citizens may be considering leaving. “I love Flint. I have been an activist for the issues that affect residents for a long time and I never imagined l would consider leaving. I have a 3 year old daughter whose safety I have to ensure. If they cannot fix our water and guarantee that she will be able to comfortably enjoy her childhood then I will be gone,” stated Morgan.
The youth of Flint are one of the biggest concerns in this disaster. The school system suffers from a more than 50% enrollment decline and a $10 million deficit, and nearly 15% of students are identified as special education. In years to come, the school system will have major issues to deal with from youth exposed to high levels of lead from the water. Lead exposure can be a source of learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
The children themselves will also have fundamental issues to deal with. “They are terrified about the future of their families and their own educational growth and development,” explained David McGhee, lifelong Flint resident and program officer at The Skillman Foundation.
“The most devastating thing I’ve heard was when best-selling author and journalist Mitch Albom brought his radio show to Flint and broadcast live. During the broadcast, he asked the audience members if they would like to speak. A 10-year old girl raised her hand and said, ‘I’m scared that I won’t grow up to be smart.’ Hearing this broke my heart,” McGhee shared. Children ages 0-6 are the most vulnerable and will require ongoing and long term care. The Flint Child Health & Development Fund has been established to keep children healthy and successful.
So many of us around the world share in the heartbreak of this ongoing tragedy. It seems surreal that the problem is still plaguing the City of Flint after almost a year of having discovered that their water supply was tainted. Citizens have received apologizes from various government leadership, yet there is still no blueprint to replace the pipes. “Apologies have come left and right from many, but the main issue is that fact that this water crisis is still an issue. Apologies are great, but residents still have not been provided a solution,” David McGhee stated.
Water bottles are a band-aid on a bullet wound; it is bewildering that residents are still unable to use the local water supply. While a solution is yet to come, Flint remains strong and proud.
Jamillah Rahmaad is a Public Relations Consultant and Entertainment Journalist located in Atlanta, GA; her hometown is Flint, MI. In 2013, she founded Soukle, an organization specifically designed to engage professionals after work. Check out her weekly podcast, E Is For Eff It! She enjoys journalism on topics such as profiled interviews, special events, and business topics. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @Jai_Soapbox.