Impressions of Flint: Deeply Moved by the People of Flint

Deeply Moved by the People of Flint I have been deeply moved by my meetings with the people of Flint. The failure of government to protect its people was as devastating as the grit, determination and spirit of those people was inspiring. I have come away more determined than ever to hold all the wrong doers accountable for the harm that they have inflicted on the families and the community.

I met many remarkable citizens, thoughtful people asking good questions, resilient people with indomitable spirit, who are unbroken and unyielding in their determination to overcome this crisis; people from all walks of life: people beset by disease and plummeting property values but still dedicated to serving and strengthening their communities; workers exerting ceaseless efforts to make healthcare accessible to all; neighbors helping families in crisis care for their children; volunteers delivering fresh fruits and vegetables to enhance child nutrition and minimize the damage that lead can cause.

A special thanks to the following:

Drusilla Blackman of Genessee Community Health Center

Reverend Archie Powell, Jr., First Union Baptist Church

Elder Patrick Wayne Sanders, Sr., of New Jerusalem Full Gospel Church

Pastor Elder Dr. Kirk Whitmore, Sr., of Living World Ministry

Pastor Brian Willingham of Charity United Methodist Church.

Some takeaways from the visit:

  • The water is still not safe to drink, cook in or wash with.
  • It’s not just lead. Lead is the worst of it but the corrosive water from the Flint River caused all the junk which had accumulated on the pipes over the years to slough off into the water. Often the water was brown-tea colored. That’s not all lead, but other toxins as well. We know there were high levels of iron and chlorides, trihalomethanes (a bi-product of chlorination) and worst of all bacteria-coliform, legionella-and who knows what else.
  • It’s not just children. The toxic cocktail in Flint water has caused a wide variety of maladies in persons of all ages. Severe skin rashes (many burn-like), hair loss, respiratory disease ranging from shortness of breath to pneumonia, gastrointestinal illness and likely other health problems.
  • The cost of Flint water that people are being charged is outrageous particularly in light of its not being usable.
  • The stigma this water crisis has visited on the community is profound. While the national spotlight has brought much needed attention to this crisis, it has also stigmatized its citizens.
  • This crisis has created psychological trauma for citizens/families that trusted the governmental agencies to protect them, and instead through an abject failure to do so exposed its residents to physical, mental and economic harm.

For all these reasons and more it is essential that a comprehensive health study be done to evaluate the impacts it has had on the people of Flint.

Mark R. Cuker