Flint Water Crisis to Have Lasting Impact on Kids for Years to Come

The Flint water crisis is a tragedy that has gained national attention, and this morning thousands are banding together to help fight for the children of Flint.

The crisis began in 2014 when the city switched its water source from the Detroit water system to the Flint River.

Lead leached into the drinking water from the city’s old plumbing because certain treatments were not added to the water.

Testing has since showed high levels of lead in some children.

Even after the Flint water crisis ends, there will still be thousands of Flint families and children who were exposed and will need additional care for the rest of their lives.

Kids under six are at the greatest risk for developing Legionnaire’s disease –a condition caused by drinking lead-contaminated water.

To help prevent this, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan says they’re currently delivering up to 40 semis of supplies every week to neighborhoods in need.

“I’ve only been here for like five days now. Not even,” says Donita Arrington, a pregnant mother who just moved to Flint.

Well aware of the water crisis, she is taking precautions.

“The water’s not good,” Arrington says. “I can’t even brush my teeth with it. Sometimes I bathe, but not really.”

Arrington is especially careful because she’s expecting a baby in a few months.

And she is one of thousands in Flint regularly picking up water donations that have been sent in from all over the country.

“Lately we’ve been distributing about 37 to 40 semis every week of water to neighborhoods,” says Kara Ross, Vice President of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. “So we have about 40 sites that are working daily on water distributions for the community.”

People need water every day.

But the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan is also starting to focus on giving people food that’s known to fight lead in the body.

“The foods that we have been advised to provide are things that are high in vitamin c, calcium and iron,” says Ross. “Anything from iron fortified or enriched cereals and breakfast bars.”

She says kids need maximum nutrition and access to healthcare to slowly start overcoming the effects of the crisis.

Another health concern is that anyone under the age of six is considered by the state to have been exposed to legionella.

And with warmer weather on the way, people in Flint will need to be extra cautious.

“At the time people start considering turning on air conditioning units and such, that might mobilize any of that water that’s been sitting around for the winter season,” states State Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells.

“This is becoming a time where if there are going to be cases, late spring and summer are the times when we may see them.”

Kids need access to nutrition and healthcare to slowly start overcoming the effects of the crisis.

“If we can build that infrastructure -which is being planned- to get nutrition, good healthcare and educational activity going, we may be able to decrease this long-term impact,” says Wells.

Northern Michigan’s News Leader is proud to be involved in a statewide telethon hosted by WDIV-TV that will air throughout the day until 8 p.m.

For more information on the Flint Water Crisis: 4 Our Families telethon, including how to donate, click here.

All proceeds will go directly to ongoing support for the kids of Flint.