MSNBC host Rachel Maddow visited Flint, Michigan on Jan. 27 for a special town hall meeting over their existing water crisis. Following and reporting on the story of the city stricken with lead water, Maddow sat down with newly elected mayor Karen Weaver along with citizens of the city who want to see someone held accountable.
From the Holmes Stem Academy, Maddow began the show stating the problem is not being resolved and holding up a lead pipe that is now the main problem in Flint. Talking to Harold Harrington, a local master plumber, he estimated the cost to replace the lead service line to each house, not to mention the damage done within the older homes. The number is looking towards $5,000 each. Many homes are not worth but double what it would cost to fix the line.
Harrington said he could have a thousand plumbers to help in a matter of weeks. Officials have yet to secure money or give a green light.
Speaking about Flint, Maddow praised the residents for bringing the crisis to national attention through organizing and stepping up for the health of their city. “Flint is underestimated. Flint is fierce and this would have never gained attention if it weren’t for you guys,” she said.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician, received a standing ovation as she was introduced for blowing the whistle not only to the city but to the world. She stressed nutrition to make sure healthy development ensues as well as a solid educational program as the brain develops. She also made the point that Flint is dead last in the nation with having the proper ratio of community school nurses to students.
In 2014, the city of Flint began using water from the Flint River to cut costs from getting its supply from Detroit. The decision was signed off by an Emergency Manager appointed by Governor Rick Snyder which voters voted against in 2012. The law was reworded to include additional options for managing the city’s finances and re-enacted. In Oct. 2014, General Motors ceased use of Flint water because it was corrosive. Throughout 2015, the city sent out a water quality report from time to time due to an elevated level of the biochemical left over from treating the water. The corrosive water wrecked the pipes. Any disturbance nearby also increases lead release.
Against state resistance, a children’s doctor at Hurley Medical Center went ahead and tested children’s blood and found high levels of lead after officials claimed the water was safe. Residents immediately began their fight to change back to Detroit water. Initially, that was not going to happen but after more uproar, the water supply was changed back to Detroit in Oct. 2015. The damage was already done.
It should also be noted that residents are paying over $100 a month in water usage and fees which has also seen legal challenges.
Congressman Dan Kildee who represents Michigan’s 5th District involved the EPA and Governor Rick Snyder declared State of Emergency. Snyder also requested aid from President Obama and soon after the White House met with Weaver, $80 million was to be sent to help Flint.
Daily, citizens can go to their local fire stations to collect a case of water. The National Guard has been assisting the city with getting water to residents along with the Red Cross going door to door from time to time. Filters have also been passed out. ZeroWater initially donated 4,000 units to Flint schools while providing free shipping and half off products online. Brita and Pur refills are also being provided.
A Congressional hearing is set for Feb. 3 though Snyder is not called to testify. The Governor is facing several lawsuits including a class action suit. Michiganders are also calling for his resignation while a recall petition to take his governorship back to the ballot failed in the Mich. House panel. Found in emails, which Michigan is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, officials knew water was not safe in Jan. 2015 when they provided purified water in Flint’s State Office Building as an alternative to employees. However, officials were telling residents the water was safe to drink at that time.
For more information on how to help Flint, Michigan, visit flint.msnbc.com.