AFRICANGLOBE – Barack Obama has signed an emergency declaration for the Michigan city of Flint, where a lead-poisoning crisis in the city’s water supply has left residents without safe water for nearly two years.
The announcement comes after the National Guard was deployed in the city to deliver bottled water door-to-door.
Obama has allocated $5 million in to assist the city and “ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions in the area affected by contaminated water,” a White House release states.
The ongoing water crisis has left thousands of households without safe drinking water. In a cost-cutting effort, the city switched its water supply source from Lake Huron (treated by the Detroit Water and sewage Department) to Flint River water, a contaminated source that initiated the scandal.
In a case similar to the plot of Hollywood blockbuster Erin Brockovich, residents in a Michigan town say they had complained that the water from the Flint River looked, smelled and tasted funny and warned it was making them sick, with many developing skin rashes.
However, the state and the white governor Rick Snyder did not respond to their cries and instead the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality gave false assurances that the water was safe and denied there were high levels of lead.
Ten people have also died from the pneumonia-like condition Legionnaire’s disease.
While exposed children are at risk for a number of problems, including lower IQ scores, developmental delays, and behavioral issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Even after lead exposure stops, the effects can last for years or even be permanent.
When tested by a team from Virginia Tech, the water was so contaminated with lead that the US Environmental Protection Agency branded it “toxic waste”.
Despite the ongoing crisis, an investigation by Mic has revealed that locals are still being charged hundreds of dollars to receive the contaminated water.
Their story has caused global outrage with many celebrities and high profile names sharing their plight and calling for change.
Singer Cher has since donated 180,000 bottles of water, while American Muslim group Who is Hussain? have sent 30,000.
Speaking of the campaign, Dr Aziza Askari, head of the Michigan chapter of the Who is Hussain?, told the Washington Times: “We saw what needed to be done and we decided to do it. We reached out to schools, neighbours, friends, mosques, anyone and everyone to help us by donating a case of water, or money towards a case.”
“Let’s talk about the lead poisoned water in Flint, Michigan rather than golden statues,” Wrote Empire star Jussie Smollett, making reference to the furore surrounding the lack of diversity at the Oscars.
The white governor Rick Snyder who is facing protests, lawsuits and calls for his resignation and arrest, has apologised to the city’s residents and called for the state to spend $28 million on fixes.
“We are praying for you, we are working hard for you and we are absolutely committed to taking the right steps to effectively solve this crisis,” he said in his State of the State address. “To you, the people of Flint, I say tonight as I have before: I am sorry, and I will fix it.”
“#Flint An apology is for stepping on someone’s Jordons. If I POISONED the governor, I’d have to do some jail time,” wrote comedian Arsenio Hall.
“This is a racial killing. Flint MI is 60% Black. When u knowingly poison a Black city, u r committing a version of genocide #ArrestGovSnyder,” read an image doing the rounds on social media.
According to the World Health Organization, “lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioural changes such as shortening of attention span and increased antisocial behaviour, and reduced educational attainment. Lead exposure also causes anaemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs. The neurological and behavioural effects of lead are believed to be irreversible.”
We’re All Detroiters Now – THEBLACKCHANNEL.NET