Flint

Izumi Japanese Restaurant / Flickr Creative Commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Business is slower than usual for some restaurants in Flint, and owners say it's because of the water crisis.

Scott Ellis is the executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, which represents bars, restaurants and taverns.

He says he has heard concerns from many restaurant owners about the impact of the ongoing emergency.

"First of all, business is down," Ellis said. "They're using Flint water, they're afraid if all the precautions were taken to make the water clean."

Mercedes Mejia

Like many residents of Flint, She'a Cobb doesn't trust the water that comes out of her faucets. So now, every day is a carefully orchestrated one — from brushing her teeth to taking a shower.

Cobb is a 31-year old bus driver who lives with her daughter and mother in Flint, a struggling blue-collar town where 40% of people live in poverty.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

  DETROIT (AP) - The head of a Flint hospital where Legionella bacteria were discovered says the Flint River was suspected as the source of the contaminant that causes Legionnaires' disease.

  Don Kooy says McLaren hospital spent more than $300,000 on a water treatment system and turned to bottled water.

  The state says at least 87 Legionnaires' cases, including nine deaths, were confirmed throughout Genesee County during a 17-month period - a major spike. But officials are unsure about a firm link to the Flint River.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Peanut butter and banana pockets. Chocolate strawberry French toast.

Those are a few of the recipes in Hurley Medical Center’s nutrition guidebook for Flint families dealing with lead.

Right now there’s a big push to get healthy food to Flint kids, because the right diet (iron, calcium, lots of Vitamin C) can actually reduce the effects of lead on the body.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s governor has promised people living in Flint he will fix their tainted drinking water.

But many residents in the city of 100,000 don’t believe him. There’s increasing distrust as concerns about lead in the tap water have worsened in the last six months.

During his State of the State address last night, Gov. Rick Snyder apologized. He said he was sorry for mistakes that allowed corrosive river water to damage Flint’s water pipes – which allowed lead to leach into the city’s tap water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint State Representative Sheldon Neeley would like to hear Governor Snyder commit to spend part of a budget surplus to address Flint’s water crisis during his State of the State address. 

Last week, state budget officials estimated Michigan will have a $575 million, one-time revenue surplus this year.

Neeley knows where he would like the money to be used: Flint’s water emergency.

It’s practically a political certainty that Governor Rick Snyder will announce a plan for cleaning up the Flint water crisis tomorrow evening when he delivers his sixth State of the State address.

Flint water takes front seat

State of the State speeches tend to be laundry lists of accomplishments and ambitions, but it’s what the Governor says about Flint, and how the state is going to tackle the water crisis it helped to create, that will command the most attention.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Even as President Obama was signing the disaster declaration for Flint and Genesee County, hundreds of protesters were gathering on the front lawn of Flint city hall.

They chanted “Snyder’s gotta go” and carried signs calling for Michigan’s governor to resign and/or be arrested for his role in Flint’s water crisis.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan National Guard is more than doubling its footprint in Flint.

Major General Greg Vadnais says the number of guardsmen handing out bottled water and filters at five fire stations will increase from 32 to 70 on Sunday.  

Vadnais says after staffing the fire stations for a few days, they realized the need for more boots on the ground.

President Obama.
Pete Souza / White House

President Obama made the declaration after a request from Gov. Snyder for federal help in responding to the drinking water crisis in the Flint area.

People in the city and in outlying areas served by the city’s water system have been urged not to drink the water since October 1, 2015.

 

Attorney General's office

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is launching an investigation into Flint’s water crisis.

Flint’s drinking water was contaminated with lead after the city’s tap water was switched to the Flint River in 2014.

The Attorney General says his investigation will see if any state laws were violated. 

Governor Snyder has acknowledged that mistakes were made that allowed corrosive Flint River water to damage the city’s pipes which in turn leeched lead into the water.

Schuette promises his investigation will proceed “without fear or favor.”

Researchers at Virginia Tech received samples of Flint water (both clear and discolored) from residents. Dr. Edwards and his team there were among the first to call attention to lead contamination in Flint's water.
Flint Water Study / Facebook

The Flint water crisis has taken a new turn, with Governor Snyder's announcement that there's been an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Flint.

Genesee County had 87 cases of Legionnaires', with ten deaths between June 2014 and November 2015. Prior years only saw between six and 10 cases.

The outbreak started soon after the city switched to water from the Flint River, and ended after it went back to Detroit water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are efforts underway to help Flint children exposed to lead in their drinking water.

There’s also an effort to see if those interventions are working.

Children exposed to high levels of lead benefit from better nutrition and early education. A new collaboration between Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital will try to find the best ways to do that.

Aron Sousa is the interim director of the MSU College of Human Medicine. He says intervention is good, but “the key thing is figuring out if your intervention is working.”

Members of the Michigan National Guard preparing to help residents in Flint get access to clean drinking water.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More Michigan National Guardsmen are on their way to help relief efforts in Flint.  

But not as many as you might expect.

Lead contamination has made Flint’s tap water undrinkable. The Michigan State Police, the American Red Cross and other groups are augmenting local efforts to distribute cases of bottled water, water filters and lead testing kits.

This week, Gov. Rick Snyder activated the Michigan Army National Guard. 

But don’t expect to see hundreds of guardsmen flooding the streets of Flint.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan National Guardsmen are in Flint today.

They’re there to pass out bottled water and filters to residents. That’s because for more than a year, the city’s tap water has been unsafe to drink.      

Numerous missteps by government agencies allowed the city’s water to become contaminated with lead, and many residents say they no longer trust the governor to fix the problem.

Tuesday afternoon, about a dozen children were sitting at a table in their school gymnasium piecing together snowflakes in an arts and crafts project.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

Members of the Michigan Army National Guard are helping distribute cases of water and filters to people in Flint.

 

  

Governor Snyder activated the guard yesterday to assist with Flint’s drinking water crisis. The first half-dozen guardsmen arrived Wednesday morning.

 

Flash back to Friday, June 24, 1972. President Richard Nixon goes on national television to apologize to the nation for the break-in and attempted bugging at the Democratic National Headquarters a week before.

“I had no knowledge of this in advance, and am totally appalled that people working for me would do such a thing,” he said. 

Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about the Flint water crisis: how Flint is getting help at the federal level, when Governor Snyder first knew about the water problem and how this crisis has hurt him politically. Lessenberry also talks about why teachers at the Detroit Public Schools are protesting many issues by staging "sickouts."


Tap water in a Flint hospital on Oct. 16, 2015.
Joyce Zhu / Flintwaterstudy.org

The Community Foundation of Greater Flint has set up a charitable fund so people can donate money to help Flint children.

The fund, called the Flint Child Health & Development Fund, is meant to support the delivery of public health, medical, and community services to improve health outcomes for children exposed to lead as a result of Flint's water crisis.

Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, has been fighting for the release of Amir Hekmati and other Americans held prisoner by the Iranian government since 2013
Steve Carmody

At last year’s State of the Union address, Flint Congressman Dan Kildee’s guest seat was unoccupied. It was left empty for Marine veteran Amir Hekmati of Flint, who has been held in an Iranian prison since August 29, 2011.

At tonight’s State of the Union speech, Kildee will once again use that guest seat to focus attention on Hekmati and the other Americans imprisoned in Iran. This time, Hekmati’s sister Sarah will fill the seat.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Researchers from Virginia Tech announced yesterday they are ending their investigation into Flint’s lead tainted water.

Virginia Tech sounded the alarm last summer when their tests turned up high lead levels in Flint drinking water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State troopers and volunteers are knocking on doors in Flint, handing out bottled water, water filters, and lead testing kits.

The city and state have been offering the water and kits for months. But many people say it’s difficult for them to travel, especially during the winter.

Lt. David Kaiser says the door-to-door outreach is part of a larger effort to help people in Flint get the clean water they need.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Snyder continues to defend himself against questions about when he knew the extent of the Flint water crisis.

On Monday, the governor was in Flint to announce the formation of a joint city-state panel to examine the city’s water crisis and ways to address it. 

The Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee will be composed of state officials with emergency management, environmental quality, health and human services, and other state agencies. Flint’s mayor and Genesee County officials will also be on the committee.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, state and local efforts are being stepped up to help people in Flint have clean water.

The state Legislature returns to the Capitol this week and Governor Rick Snyder will kick off the political year in Lansing with his State of the State address next week.


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Flint museum is opening a new exhibit later this month that will take a close look at the city’s drinking water crisis.

When Sloan Museum executive director Todd Slisher booked the national traveling exhibit “Water’s Extreme Journey” nearly two years ago, he had no idea of the crisis that would soon grip Flint.

The city’s disastrous switch to the Flint River ended up damaging the city’s water system and led to health concerns.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A group of protesters angry at Governor Rick Snyder gathered in front of Flint city hall Friday.

People holding signs saying “Fire Rick Snyder” and “Arrest Snyder,” along with one protester wearing a giant Rick Snyder papier-mache head and prison stripes, made their displeasure with Michigan’s governor clear. 

Monica Lewis-Patrick with We The People of Detroit says she believes something criminal has happened with Flint water.  But she says the problem is deeper.

Gov. Rick Snyder's office

Governor Rick Snyder says he would like to give Flint’s mayor "more authority." 

Flint has been under state oversight since 2011, when Snyder appointed the first of four emergency managers to run the city.   The last emergency manager left in April 2015.

But this week, after meeting with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver about the city’s drinking water crisis, Snyder suggested it’s time to move closer to local control.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State emergency center officials say they are working to better understand what has been done and what needs to be done in Flint.  

The governor declared Flint’s lead tainted drinking water a ‘state of emergency’ this week. The city had switched from Detroit water to water from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money, and did not reverse its decision until October.

State officials opened the Emergency Operations Center in Lansing to reporters on Thursday.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Officials are now going door to door in Flint handing out water filters.

Genesee County reserve sheriff’s deputies started knocking on doors just after 10 am in a neighborhood on the city’s north side.  If someone answers, deputies  hand out bottled water and filters to homeowners who need them. 

While thousands of water filters have been handed out, many people in Flint are still not using them to filter lead from their drinking water.

Sheriff Robert Pickell says the homes in this neighborhood are some of the oldest in town, with some dating back to 1900. 

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