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Community rallies for Flint in water crisis

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published February 3, 2016


SOUTHFIELD — Residents are banding together to help the people of Flint, who are currently enduring a water crisis.

Local lawmakers, the Southfield Public Schools system and the city are holding water drives to support residents in the Flint community.

According to the letter sent by Gov. Rick Snyder asking for a presidential declaration of a state of emergency for the city, Flint changed its water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River in April 2014.

In 2015, monitoring efforts by the city, the state of Michigan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and physicians at Hurley Medical Center uncovered elevated blood lead levels in the city. Of the more than 2,600 residents tested, 50 were found to have elevated blood lead levels, with 28 of those children under the age of 6. Genesee County issued a “do not drink” advisory to residents in October 2015.

President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency Jan. 16.

According to a news release from Community Relations Director Michael Manion, the Southfield Human Services Department is coordinating a community effort to collect cases of bottled water, infant formula and diapers for the residents of Flint. No glass bottles will be accepted,

Manion said, and infant formula can be liquid or concentrate.

“Clean drinking water is an essential and basic necessity,” Mayor Ken Siver said in a written statement. “The residents of Southfield have expressed a strong desire to do something to help our neighbors in Flint. I encourage every Southfield employee, resident and business to consider donating to help Flint residents during this difficult time.”  

Interested residents can bring donations to the main reception desk at City Hall, 26000 Evergreen Road, or to the Human Services Department at 26060 Berg Road, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays through Feb. 10.

“Donations will be delivered to the Catholic Charities Center for Hope in Flint for direct distribution to individuals and families. Catholic Charities is working in partnership with the American Red Cross, United Way of Genesee County and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan,” Manion said in the release.

Rhonda Terry, office coordinator for Southfield Human Services, said pitching in to help Flint falls under the Golden Rule.

“We need to be good neighbors to Flint. This is just a temporary solution. We can’t just stand by and not do anything while we wait for the government and the state to fix the pipes,” Terry said.

Southfield Public Schools will also be holding a drive for supplies. Through Feb. 5, students are asked to bring gallon-sized bottles of water and jugs to school.

State Rep. Jeremy Moss and local law firm Goodman Acker joined forces to hold a water drive Jan. 26-28. Residents were asked to drop off donations at the Southfield Public Library and Goodman Acker, 17000 W. 10 Mile Road.

“This is a wonderful example of how government can work with the private sector, and I know the good people of Southfield and surrounding communities want to help the city of Flint,” Moss said in a prepared statement.

Jerry Acker, senior partner at Goodman Acker, said the firm donated over 3,200 bottles of water to the cause.

City Councilwoman Tawnya Morris said the crisis hits close to home.

“As a mother, I would be in sheer agony if my children or family members were suffering from the results of contaminated water. I have relatives who live in Flint, and I’ve seen their despair,” Morris said in an email.  “That’s why I felt Southfield needed to get involved. I hope the residents of Southfield support this effort. I’m sure Flint would do the same if we needed their help.”