The water crisis in Flint, MI, continues to horrify the nation. Almost two years after it started and more than three months after it came to national public attention, the residents of Flint are still struggling with lead-contaminated water.
In mid-December, Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency over lead levels in the local water supply. In a statement, she called the situation a "man-made disaster" with irreversible effects. A few weeks later Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in the county, sending the Michigan National Guard out to help water distribution efforts. The state has since appealed to the federal government for funds to help replace lead pipes and provide medical support for those affected. But in the meantime, residents are stuck with the poisonous water. Refinery29 travelled to Flint to see how bad things really are on the ground. The answer? Worse than we imagined. Resident Marseille Allen demonstrated her three-step, multi-filter system for creating drinkable water to us, saying, “It’s a process.” Allen, who moved to Flint in September, is one of many working to help those struggling. We followed her for three days as she and her friends collected and distributed water to residents in need, including the elderly and families with young children who are particularly endangered by lead poisoning.
Refinery29 previously travelled to Flint with Chelsea Clinton and pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha to see what it's really like for residents. Clinton, like many parents, can't help but put herself and her family in the shoes of what's happening in Flint. "I'm a mom, I have a 16-month-old, I’m pregnant with my second child. If I lived in Flint, my daughter could be among those who had been poisoned," she told us at the time.
As the crisis continues, private citizens are stepping up to help their neighbors. Allen counts donations to her GoFundMe campaign to raise money for bottled water not in dollars, but in ease it brings to the community. A sum of $10,000 is enough for three truckloads of bottled water. "It’s very easy for me to calculate how much that money means to the city of Flint,” she said.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information about the crisis response efforts in Flint.