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Flint Everything but Igniting a Flame

Trevor Stewart, Writer

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“An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  -Martin Luther King Jr

Justice is coming 3 years too late to Flint, Michigan. Earlier this week, a judge approved $87 million to be used in replacing contaminated water lines in Flint. While this is great news for the citizens of Flint, it is long overdue.

Flint has been hung out to dry, literally and figuratively–considering government officials originally denied that the water supply was contaminated after deciding to switch water sources. Media coverage of the crisis was inconsistent at best and as a result, the outreach to Flint was sporadic.

Also, considering that the U.S., the global leader in GDPallowed Flint’s issue to persist, is nothing short of a tragedy. The U.S. is one of the world’s true leaders in innovation, yet it has allowed a city to go without water as if it were a third world country. In an informal survey, 7 out of 24 students had heard about Flint’s crisis in the past week and none of these 24 students felt the media coverage was adequate.

As if lead poisoning wasn’t bad enough, a recent report from CNN is attributing the water contamination to the cause of a Legionnaires outbreak.

A 108-page report was issued by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights on February 17th. That report called the crisis “a complete failure of government.”

So what caused Flint to get the unwanted stepchild treatment? Is it because nearly 60% of the population is African American, and over 40% of the residents live below the poverty line? It is unfortunate, but quite possible that Flint’s prolonged struggle was based on race issues and socioeconomic status. Would a much larger city such as Chicago have been allowed to suffer for so long? If such an issue were to occur in Beverly Hills or a more affluent community, would the media coverage have been more prolific?

Donald Fitcheard, Water Supervisor at Madison Utilities, offered some insight on Flint and how the numerous errors that had to have taken place in order for the water crisis to take place, “The Crisis could have been avoided if more precautions and actually spent the amount of money needed to treat the water from Lake Huron by adding the phosphate to prevent the corrosion of the lead pipes.”

He also explained the many safety procedures that the city of Madison follows to avoid such issues. “Nothing like this has happened in our area because we are required to use lead-free materials. We even took it a step further and replaced all the old meters and materials to make sure they were also lead-free. In addition, we also treat our water and samples are taken before being put into the system.”

Regardless, my thoughts and prayers are with the Citizens of Flint and I hope that they receive ample support in the midst of their crisis. If you would like to assist Flint residents during their time of need, more information is available here.

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Flint Everything but Igniting a Flame