Residents rally on 4 year anniversary of Flint water crisis - WNEM TV 5

Residents rally on 4 year anniversary of Flint water crisis

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

It's been four years since the city of Flint switched to using the Flint River as its water source under state orders. 

A whole series of events from the Vehicle City to the nation's capital took place on Wednesday to remember the anniversary. 

Without the right corrosion controls, the water caused pipes to leach lead into the system, poisoning the city. 

Since then, the city has gone back to getting its water from Detroit and experts say the system is healing, but not everyone is convinced. 

On Wednesday, members of the Flint H2O Justice Coalition rallied in Lansing. They want the state to supply free bottled water for mistrustful residents - and pay their water bills. The rally began at 10 a.m. at Lansing City Hall and was followed by a rally at Flint City Hall at 3 p.m. 

the group said it has been four years too long and many are angry with Gov. Rick Snyder closing the water distribution sites just weeks ago.

"Gov. Snyder was dismissive of Flint residents' ongoing concerns about water safety and suggested that they just get over it," said Claudia Perkins, Flint resident.

The activists marched from outside the Capitol building all the way to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. They carried a symbolic casket to represent lives that may have been lost due to unsafe water.

Some Flint city council members showed their support and demanded action as well.

"Fighting for what is definitely right. Four years way too long. Time for us to see some action on this. All the pipes have not yet been replaced. It was a shame, only saw the governor take away the bottled water for people that are relying on this," said Santino Guerra, Flint city councilman.

"The water is still not safe. Still saying high lead levels in homes and schools. Bacteria is an issue and people just don't trust it," said Eva Worthing, council member.

The group made their way back to Flint City Hall to make sure local government knows they have a hand in the crisis too.

"Until all the lead service lines are replaced, filters and bottled water still be available to all Flint residents," Perkins said.

Flint families, artists from "Fundred Project," and activist Melissa Mays joined Congressman Dan Kildee in Washington, D.C. to call attention to the recovery efforts in the wake of the water crisis. 

They are also hoping to highlight the investments in the nation's water infrastructure to make sure what happened in Flint never happens again. 

"The high levels of metal, bacteria, lead. It's unbelievable," said Jill Robison, Flint resident.

She said her pipes haven't gotten much better since the water crisis began.

"It's not safe for any human being or animal. This is inhumane how they are treating the residents in Flint, Michigan," Robison said.

Robison took the bus trip from Flint to Lansing with the Flint H2O Justice Coalition.

"I'm angry. I'm upset. My son that has went and visited his grandmother has lead poisoning," said Brittany Fletcher, Robison's daughter.

Fletcher said her son got sick because of the water. She said to make matters worse, Snyder closed the water distribution sites across the city two weeks ago and the family still has no faith in their tap water.

"These are our children. These are the elderly. These are pets. She had two animals pass away from the water," Fletcher said.

The group of protesters also gave Snyder an eviction notice, citing the reason as negligence for closing the distribution sites.

"They're going to keep telling us this is safe. I guarantee you, it is not safe," Robison said.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver released the following statement:

Flint residents say we have been dealing with the effects of this man-made water disaster for too long, and I agree. The first year and a half was wasted, because leaders in place at the time refused to listen to residents’ concerns. However, I am glad that some progress has been made. We are back to receiving our water from the Great Lakes Water Authority and the water quality has improved. In addition, we have replaced nearly 6,300 lead-tainted pipes and identified that thousands more are made of copper and not lead.

But is the crisis over, no it is not. Not when in-home plumbing and residents’ water heaters have been damaged through no fault of their own, and nothing has been done to help them fix it. And not when the medical community and environmental experts tell us we still need to be on filtered water because of the ongoing work to complete the pipe replacement program.

I understand why residents are upset. Because we are still dealing with this problem, and the leaders who made the decisions that got us here have basically walked away.

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