EDITOR’S NOTE: It is November — the water crisis in Flint has been going on for over two years (April 2014 is when the water was switched to the Flint river) and the city is still in crisis mode. What is amazing are the grass roots efforts to help Flint people and draw attention to their needs. Without the assistance of them and many nonprofits the conditions in Flint would be untenable.
And there is no doubt the Flint crisis is led by mostly women.
This month we introduce you to three women—all activists– you haven’t met before. Their stories are similar, their frustration the same—but they deserve to be heard. We must never forget Flint people’s health and well being continues to be threatened.
YOUR VOTE MATTERS.
“The Flint Water Crisis is the result of an election. An election that put people in office who think that quality of life can be measured on a balance sheet. This same bankrupt philosophy of balance sheets over people that led to the Flint water crisis is also leading to failing schools and crumbling roads Do not look at Flint as an anomaly. It’s not. It is a warning that if we do not begin to put people first in this state we will experience many more Flints.”
— Congressman Dan Kildee
Born and raised in Flint, Congressman Dan Kildee is serving his second term in Congress. He is from the 5th District and he and his family still reside in Flint.
Priscilla has become an activist and works closely with several groups. The day we met she was prepared to go canvassing door to door. Flint residents know, more than most, how important it is to vote.
“We need a complete overhaul — ALL pipes replaced,” Priscilla said. Priscilla said her face still breaks out because of the water and she has suffered from rashes. “I can’t get rid of the welts and open sores under my arm — they just won’t heal,” she said.
DESPITE DIFFERENT REMEDIES, PRISCILLA CANNOT GET RID OF THE OPEN SORES AND WELTS UNDER HER ARM.
Delois is retired—she was a nurse for 25 years—and lives in a home without running water. A water pipe broke — one that was not on her property but the city wants her to pay $2,000 to fix it. According to Delois, there are “hundreds in the city living without running water”. “Pipes are starting to be replaced but it’s been over two years and it might be another two years before all the pipes are replaced,” Delois said. “My grandchildren, especially the seven year old, have been affected by the poisoning of the water.” She too got rashes from showering—she said one of the rashes has left her scarred on her chest. “When you shower, your face and your upper body gets the most water—and that is where I broke out the most—and now I have this vertical scar on my chest,” Delois said.
When Brenda met me, it was clear she had something to say. She gave me her name with the correct spelling and waits patiently while I talk to other women. She listens to them carefully, nodding occasionally when they make a comment.
Brenda has two grandchildren. Her daughter was always healthy and took good care of herself. “We can’t prove it was because of the lead—my daughter drank the water before it was declared unsafe—but my grandson, who is just one year old—was born with a handicap—he had a shunt placed in his head,” Brenda said. “How does a state surrounded by five lakes let this happen?”
GINA LUSTER: AN UPDATE
We featured Gina in our September edition. A successful retail manager, she was forced to quit her job due to her poor health—caused by drinking poisoned water. Her eight year old daughter Kennedy has NO Vitamin D in her body due to the lead in the water. At this deadline, Kennedy still cannot absorb Vitamin D on her own. She is on 1200 units daily.
Since we last met with Gina, she was hospitalized for two days with a bacterial infection but still managed to caravan with a group to D.C. to lobby for more funds for Flint. “We met with Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters who were very helpful,” Gina said. The group even met with eight people from the EPA. “I told them to toughen up— you’re supposed to have our backs—you’re supposed to protect us,” Gina said.
Gina is very active both politically and as a volunteer. I see her as an emerging leader.