Trust still an issue 5 years after Flint’s water emergency began

Flint Water Crisis: 5 years later

FLINT, MI (WJRT/Gray News) - On April 25, 2014, Flint, Michigan switched its drinking water source to the Flint River.

The community trusted the water would be treated properly. When they cried out for help with water bottles full of brown water, they weren't believed.

Then, serious health problems developed. Flint’s water emergency was declared and the water source was switched to the Detroit system.

The consequences over that 18-month period are expected to last a lifetime.

“The fact that we still have not seen all of the effects of what this water crisis is going to do to the citizens of this city is what upsets me the most,” resident Buffi Clements told WJRT.

Lines for bottled water, handed out across the city, remained long Thursday.

That's the only drinking water many will use for their families, their pets, even their plants.

“You know, the effects that this has created, just on a mental PTSD level, just, you know, anxieties,” explained Brandi McBride, Clements’ sister. “And you know, different things that we have to deal with going forward is just - it’s a lot.”

Knowing trust remains an issue, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II made sure to be in Flint Thursday.

"You can't remedy a broken trust like this with words," Whitmer said. "You have to show up and you have to live your values. And, that's what we're doing every single day."

Whitmer was not in state government when the water emergency began, but she said she plans to help continue fixing it, starting with her budget proposal.

“Just in looking at the education piece that I put forward, there are a number of ways that we’re going to support the youngest children in Flint who may have paid the biggest price for the failure of government," she explained.

Congressman Dan Kildee added, “Because we’re talking about impacts on young kids, we’ve got to get those kids through their phases of development before we can actually say we’ve put this behind us.”

He believes it could take a decade before trust is restored.

“So, this is the beginning. It’s a step in the right direction but we’ve got a long way to go,” he said.

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