OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Today, nearly six years later, Flint, Michigan residents are still fighting for clean water.
Here’s a bit of history on the situation: In April 2014, Flint switched from Detroit’s water supply (sourced from Lake Huron) to save money because the town had gone bankrupt. Immediately, there were complaints about its taste and smell. It was not until February of 2015 that testing showed elevated lead levels. Officials discussed the concerns but took no action while Flint residents continued consuming the contaminated water. In September of 2015, independent researchers found alarming levels of lead in children’s blood.
Finally, in January of 2016, Governor Snyder asked for help and declared the water crisis a state of emergency and asked for federal assistance. Obama then declared the Flint water crisis a national emergency and promised the people of Flint that the White House had their backs. Obama went on to explain how the Flint water crisis was “inexcusable.”
From The Detroit Free Press, January 2016:
President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency in Flint, freeing up to $5 million in federal aid to assist with the public health crisis. President Obama did offer assistance in finding other available federal aid. Still, he denied Gov. Rick Snyder’s request for a disaster declaration. A disaster declaration would have made more significant amounts of federal funding available more quickly to help Flint residents whose drinking water is contaminated with lead.
In March of 2016, those responsible for making the changes in water management met with Congress. Then in May of 2016, Obama portrayed the sense that the situation was resolved with filters and on the mend.
Check out this May 2016 coverage from CBS Evening News:
Also from May 2016, here’s CNN’s coverage of Obama addressing the water crisis “resolve”:
Fast forward to a 2020 perspective. On Sunday night, January 12, I came across this video on Twitter. It shows a much more accurate picture of went down between Obama and many citizens of Flint. It is again footage from his visit to Flint in May of 2016:
.@BarackObama should have declared the Flint poison water crisis a state of emergency.
Instead, he made fun of it…not once, but TWICE!
"When he came here he was my president. When he left he was not my president."
The most corrupt, heartless president EVER! pic.twitter.com/4hXTCEEiHp
— MAGA🇺🇸Gwen⭐⭐⭐Text TRUMP to 88022 (@MAGAGwen) January 12, 2020
It was this tweet that got me digging more about this topic. Watching it, I immediately saw “the not such a rosy picture” versus what had been painted by the media back then and decided I had to write about it. Despite what Obama proclaimed in May of 2016, the Flint water crisis was not then resolved, nor is it now.
Here’s an update on the water crisis as of August 2019. And I highly recommend watching this excellent (twenty-minute) documentary on the 2014-2019 and counting history of the Flint water crisis. It’s reeeaaaallllyyyy good so if you don’t have time to watch this now, bookmark it for later.
Hopefully, the future will bring some harsh accountability and consequences to the water management and government employees responsible for the (hu)man-made Flint water crisis.
My heart goes out to the people of Flint, Michigan. I hope you can find comfort in knowing many of us are aware, you’re not forgotten, and we’ll keep watching the water with you. Godspeed.