Hey, Governor Snyder, The City of Flint Needs Water!

In April 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan switched from getting its water from the Detroit water system (which it had been doing for decades) to getting water directly out of the city’s Flint River – untested and untreated. Why would they do such a thing? Because the state-appointed emergency manager, one of several appointees of Michigan’s Governor, Rick Snyder to take over financially strapped cities in the state, decided that doing so would save money. Not surprisingly, the water in the Flint River is polluted and contains high levels of lead. Yet, despite growing concerns in the intervening months about water quality and increasing levels of lead being reported in the bloodstreams of the children of Flint, nothing was done. Now, not only are the adults and children of Flint poisoned by their own water, but the pipes carrying the water are contaminated with lead and other toxins.

You would think that – given he has known about this situation since October 2015 – the Governor would long ago have declared a state of emergency so that FEMA could bring in water to the 100,000 residents of the city of Flint. (You would think that anyone with an 8th grade education in this country would know that a waterway running through a city in an industrial area would need to be treated before drinking it!) During a press conference yesterday, however, the Governor said that they were just now putting together a “draft of a request” to FEMA, but that it would not be submitted right away because it would “take some time to determine what the state needs.”
Are you kidding, Governor Snyder? The city of Flint needs water! The people of Flint have no clean, potable water to drink, to bathe in, to cook with, to give to their children. And by the way, Governor, lead poisoning causes brain damage in children that can lead to irreparable neurological and behavioral problems. Governor Snyder, here’s a plan. Have the state allocate emergency funding to purchase water and call out your National Guard to truck it in! Then, apply for Federal funding to fix the pipes and make a plan for the thousands of children who will need treatment because of lead poisoning. Way to save money, Governor!

Starting today, the state has put together four teams of five people (that’s 20 people for a city of 100,000) to go door-to-door to give out water and water filters to the residents of Flint. Believe it or not, however, this is still not water that the state has purchased for its own people, but donations of water from other communities! Theoretically, one might say if we send water or money to Flint, we are only enabling the State government to continue to shirk its responsibility… but we’re talking about water here folks! So, here’s what you can do if you want to help the people of Flint:

Catholic Charities accepts donations online.They fund the following locations to buy water:
Center for Hope, 901 Chippewa Street, Flint, MI 48503
North End Soup Kitchen 735 E. Stewart Ave, Flint, MI 48505
Owosso Community Closet and Food Pantry 120 W. Exchange St., Ste. 300 Owosso, MI 48867.
The United Way has also been buying water and distributing it to the soup kitchens and shelters around town. In addition, the Mission of Hope, whose leader, Pastor Bobby Jackson, has been distributing water, now has a GoFundMe page. Also in full swing, the Bottles for the Babies program is collecting money for another giveaway. And the Lansing State Journal recommends a water drive run by Carrie Davis, also through GoFundMe.

B’tikvah/With Hope, Rabbi Susan

Published in Rabbi Susan's Blog on January 12, 2016