The residents of Flint, Michigan, are facing an unprecedented water crisis as their sinks, bathtubs and water hoses have been gushing lead-contaminated water for more than a year.
“It’s a disaster,” Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan told the National Journal.
In April 2014, the city began tapping the polluted Flint River for water to cut costs instead of using Detroit's supply from Lake Huron. Almost two years later, the Flint mayor says they are facing a $1.5 billion tab to fix it.
People across the country are outraged as Gov. Snyder has ignored calls from city residents -- who are disproportionately poor and black -- about the discolored water for months, according to The New York Times. After the governor repeatedly assured people the water was safe, researchers confirmed in September that it contained dangerous levels of lead due to pipe corrosion.
Among the most concerned are Flint parents, with thousands of children who could potentially experience brain damage from the lead poisoning.
Children exposed to lead poisoning can experience permanent damage, according to the World Health Organization. Lead can seriously affect children’s cognitive and physical development, leading to issues from lower IQs and aggression problems, to anemia and kidney dysfunction.
In response, groups on the ground are making a real difference as they organize to bring safe, clean water to Flint residents.
Here’s how you can help support the Flint Community during this state of emergency:
1. Donate To The People Bringing Clean Water To Flint Families
The United Way of Genesee County has set up a dedicated Flint Water Fund. 100 percent of the money donated goes to buying filters and bottled water for Flint residents, as well as other emergency support services and prevention efforts.
“Communities go through various kinds of crises and challenges,” Jamie Gaskin, the CEO of United Way, told Lansing State Journal. “Everyone is trying to find their way forward in the best way we can.”
According to the Fund’s website, they have already sourced more than 10,000 filter systems, and are paying a driver for daily filter and water distributions.
2. Support The Researchers Keeping The Public Informed
The Flint Water Study is an independent research team at Virginia Tech. The scientists volunteer their time to study Flint’s tap water and inform residents of lead levels and their impacts through an online repository of data and information.
The group collects lead kits from Flint residents and have analyzed hundreds so far, according to their website. They then call to inform residents with “considerably high” lead in their water.
To support the Flint Water Study, donate to their GoFundMe campaign.
3. Fund The Organizations Supporting Critical Public Health Services
The Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF) is asking for nationwide donations to the Flint Child Health and Development Fund. Funds will support “public health, medical and community-based services” to address the impact of the water crisis on Flint families.
“If there was ever a time to invest in our children, it is now,” said Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha in a press release for the CFGF.
Dr. Hanna-Attisha helped expose the Flint water crisis, according to Democracy Now, by heading the September study that revealed elevated lead-levels in the blood of children under five in Flint. Even as state officials dismissed her findings, she continued to demand action.
4. Live In Flint? Bring Cash And Water Directly To Those Who Are Helping
Flint Community Schools accepts both cash donations and bottled water, according to Lansing State Journal. You can make a donation to your neighborhood school on weekdays or call the district’s finance office at 810-767-6030. To schedule a bottled water drop off, contact 810-760-1310.
The Flint Community Schools will be partnering with several organizations to help recycle the thousands of bottles of water they use during the Flint water crisis, according to MLive.com.
"As our students, teachers and staff get through this water crisis, they have also been mindful of the need to recycle empty water bottles," said Flint Community Schools Superintendent, Bilal Tawwab, in a media release.
The Catholic Charities of Genesee County are also accepting cases of water, filter kits, cash or checks at the Center for Hope, 517 E. Fifth Ave., Flint. They distribute the clean water to families and individuals in need, as supplies allow.
“The health of our neighbors is a top priority,” said Vicky Schultz, President and CEO of Catholic Charities, in a press release. “I encourage those who wish to make contributions to call the Center for Hope at 810-232-9950, ext. 325.”
5. Rather Not Give Money? Call On Gov. Snyder To Help Residents
Michigan residents are signing a petition on Change.org by the thousands, demanding that Governor Snyder stop making Flint residents pay for contaminated water. The residents of Flint receive water bills that average $140 a month, according to the Flint Journal, for water that contains high levels of lead and could be damaging to their children’s health.
“Flint residents should not have to pay for poisoned water,” the petition reads. “No more shut-offs. No more poisoned water!”
You can join the more than 1,100 supporters who have added their names to the petition since it was started on Sunday night.