Adventist Community Services (ACS) is partnering with local authorities in Flint, Michigan to provide drinking water to residents there during a city-wide water crisis.
The city of Flint is about 70 miles from the Great Lakes, the largest fresh-water bodies in the world. Up until about two years ago, Flint received its water from Lake Huron, paying the city of Detroit for the water. Local leaders, in an attempt to save money, switched the water supply from Lake Huron to Flint River, a notoriously dirty waterway. It is unclear who approved the switch, but the results have been disastrous for Flint.
The water was not treated with anti-corrosive agents, and it ate away the iron in water mains, causing the water to turn brown. In addition, many households in Flint receive water through lead pipes, and in addition to iron, lead is leaching into the water supply. Many residents became sick, but it wasn’t until a group of researchers from Virginia Tech conducted studies that the extent of the problem came to light.
Flint, Michigan’s water crisis is not only a public health disaster but also a political talking point for presidential hopefuls in both parties ahead of the November, 2016 election.
Michigan’s Republican governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in order to receive federal aid.
Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders called for Snyder’s resignation in the wake of Flint’s lead poisoning. His Democratic rival Hillary Clinton sent two of her top aides to Michigan to assist Flint Mayor Karen Weaver in any way they could.
On the Republican side, frontrunner Donald Trump called the situation “a shame” but declined to say more when pressed for response.
Ted Cruz’s campaign coordinated with its Michigan campaign director to provide bottled water for crisis pregnancy centers (anti-abortion organizations) in the area to burnish Cruz’s pro-life values.
Ben Carson, the first Republican candidate to speak out on the crisis, was critical of elected leaders with the exception of Michigan’s Republican governor.
The North American Division Adventist Community Services has provided the response from the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Michigan. NADACS wrote on the communityservices.org website,
“Michigan Conference and the Lake Region Conference Adventist Community Services is responding by distributing water bottles to people who are affected by the water crisis. The youth are putting water analysis testing kits together and adults are giving out water filters.”
Of the many jobs to be done, youth groups and members of Michigan Pathfinder clubs have helped prepare 11,000 water-testing kits for distribution under the supervision of the American Red Cross. In total, 80,000 of the kits will be distributed. This task, which is the only job those under age 18 are allowed to do, needs more volunteer workers.
ACS notes other critical needs:
The Volunteer Reception Center is within the American Red Cross Headquarters and is in desperate need of volunteers for Data Entry, water distribution and filter distribution at the five Flint Fire Departments. Please consider this volunteer opportunity. You can volunteer by calling the community service phone number 211.
Adventist volunteers have helped to deliver approximately ten pallets of water a week to Flint residents, and plan to continue to do so for the next five months until new water pipes are in place.
Those wishing to provide monetary donations can send them to the Michigan Conference at 320 W St Joseph Hwy, Lansing MI 48933, marked Flint Water Crisis. The conference asks those who would like to donate water to contact Diana Bruch, Lake Union Conference ACS Director (517 331-2242).
Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.
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