Flint activist speaks on Flint Water settlement

The mom of the poster child for the Flint Water Crisis is calling on the state and the city to do more for those living with the devastating effects.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 6:33 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - The mom of the poster child for the Flint Water Crisis is calling on the state and the city to do more for those living with the devastating effects of the crisis.

A Genesee County judge approved the more than $600 million settlement in the case on Tuesday, March 22.

Related: Judge approves historic Flint water civil settlement

Ariana Hawk’s son, Sincere Smith, developed a skin condition after being exposed to water as a baby and has visible scars.

She said she is happy the settlement is finally approved, but this is only the first step.

“It’s going to really take a lot for them to make Flint whole again. The community has to be put back together,” Hawk said.

Hawk has seen firsthand the harm caused by the Flint Water Crisis.

“Right now, we’re going through it and we’re still going through it, I don’t see the overcoming part yet. We haven’t overcome the water crisis and it’s eight years into this crisis,” she said.

Her then 3-year-old son Sincere garnered national attention after his picture appeared on the cover of Time magazine back in 2016. In the photo, you can see Sincere’s body covered in rashes caused by the contaminated water.

“The water was like really tearing his skin up and making it hard for him in his everyday life,” Hawk said.

She said her son, who is now 10-years-old, has never known a normal life, from using bottled water for drinking, cooking, and brushing his teeth to never experiencing taking a bath because they can only take showers.

“My 5-year-old never drank out the faucet. He don’t even know what faucet water taste like. I don’t even want to put my kids through that and have to go through that again. So, showers and bottle water, that’s our normal routine. It’s a part of our everyday life now and it’s sad but that’s the norm for people in Flint,” Hawk said.

Hawk said she is grateful to finally see some sort of resolution for Flint residents impacted by the water crisis, but she believes more needs to be done.

“With these lawsuits, a lot of people feel like a lot of this is going to the kids. But you have adults and people who have lost people and a lot of this that they haven’t dealt with, that they haven’t addressed yet, they haven’t said that, ‘We’re going to try to do something to help y’all.’ So that’s why this lawsuit, it’s good, it’s ok, it’s for the kids, it’s benefiting them, but the city still hasn’t been built whole,” she said.

Hawk said she hopes one day soon Flint will get back to being the city she once knew and loved.

Hawk plans to continue to use her platform to spread awareness.

While some local and state leaders are ready to move forward, there’s still more work to be done. The city of Flint said they’ve replaced more than 95 percent of all lead pipes in the city. The replacement was supposed to be done in September of 2022, but city leaders said the pandemic slowed down the work.

As a result, the state environment department granted the Vehicle City a deadline extension until the end of 2023.

Since the crisis, EGLE said the city has met state lead regulations for the past six years.

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