ICYMI | How young people have responded to the Flint Water Crisis

Americans are working together to solve a crisis. The Flint water crisis has been ongoing since April 2014, when Flint changed its water source from…

Americans are working together to solve a crisis. The Flint water crisis has been ongoing since April 2014, when Flint changed its water source from water  treated by the Detroit water and sewage department to water from the Flint River. The effects were apparent soon after. The water from the river caused lead from the aging pipes it was passing through to show up in the water. This has caused anywhere between 6,000 and 12,000 children in Flint to be exposed to the lead contamination and experience a range of health problems as a result.

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The water has a distinct smell and taste to it and is brassy in color. Even with this, residents of Flint were told the water was safe to consume. Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan, declared Flint as a federal state of emergency, authorizing additional help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as of January 19, 2016.

There has been outrage country wide at the relatively slow speed of response by the government. Many Americans cannot believe that in over a year, nothing has been done. Many also feel that if the city were not impoverished and predominantly African American, something would have been done by now.

Many nonprofit groups have been helping with the crisis by donating water bottles and other essentials. Virginia Commonwealth University’s own Black VCU Speaks has been working to contribute. Attalah Shabazz, student organizer for Black VCU Speaks said she feels like it is their duty to help.

“Usually when we hear of people being forced to live in conditions similar to those in Flint, we don’t think of the United States, we think of underdeveloped countries.”


Shabazz said since there was already a drive happening in Richmond, Black VCU Speaks wanted a way to be a part of that. They collected cases of water and monetary donations. With the money donated Black VCU Speaks made about 6-7 car trips to buy cases of water to take to the drop-off sites in Richmond along with the others that donated. Shabazz said a total of 5 black student organisations donated along with many of individual students. As of right now a Flint, MI toiletry drive is in the process of being organized, and Shabazz said people should be on the lookout to help with that as well.

There are also other donations people can donate to. The Flint Water Fund is collecting money for water bottles and filers, something desperately needed. The Salvation Army is collecting money and donations to help with water bottles, filters and delinquent water bills of the residents of Flint, who are still being charged for water they cannot use.

Four government officials; one from the City of Flint, two from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and one from the Environmental Protection Agency, have resigned over the mishandling of the crisis. Governor Snyder has issued an apology to citizens and has promised to fix things. Snyder later sent $28 million to Flint for supplies, medical care and infrastructure upgrades. But whether or not this will solve the crisis, is yet to be seen.

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