Flint residents share permanent impacts of Water Crisis

It may have been nine years since the beginning of the Flint Water Crisis, but some Flint residents said it feels like yesterday.
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 7:17 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - It may have been nine years since the beginning of the Flint Water Crisis, but some Flint residents said it feels like yesterday.

“Every time my daughter gets in the shower, she’ll break out in hives. They itch her. Some of them get real, real big. And they truly are from head to toe,” said Flint resident Joelena Freeman.

That’s why nine years after the onset of the Flint Water Crisis, Freeman doesn’t trust the Vehicle City’s water. She said her concerns over it have given her high blood pressure.

“You just get tired of worrying about the water. You know, I would like to just cut my water on and go get a glass of water. But I can’t. I got to go through all these steps to get bottled water into my cup,” Freeman said.

Another Flint resident, Christina Sayyae, said she believes Flint’s water almost killed her.

“I was so poisoned, I was down to 99 pounds,” she said.

Sayyae said she got a procedure that saved her life.

“It’s called chelation treatment. It removes the heavy metals from your body in a safe process. It kind of like wraps around them and grabs hold and pulls it out of your arteries,” she explained. “It’s good for any kind of toxins, not just lead and copper.”

Sayyae showed up at a nine-year water crisis event to promote chelation treatment. She said she thinks people in Flint aren’t being told about it.

“I’m glad to be here, but I’m sad to see nothing’s changed,” she said.

As for Freeman, she said she doesn’t expect her blood pressure to get lower anytime soon.

“Until all these pipes are fixed, and the infrastructure is fixed, we’re always going to have bad water,” Freeman said.

Another Flint resident, Mona Munroe-Younis, said she noticed problems with her skin shortly after the switch to the Flint River as the city’s water source. And even though the Flint River is no longer part of Flint’s drinking water equation, she said the effect of the Flint River will stay with her for life.

Even though the Flint River is no longer part of Flint's drinking water equation, one resident said the effect will stay with her for life.

“My body is usually 70 to 85 percent covered with spots. Sometimes I have areas where there’s not spots, it’s solidly covered. And it’s very itchy and painful,” Munroe-Younis said.

Munroe-Younis said she has psoriasis.

“So it can affect your internal systems, creating like an inflammatory response to your organs. So you can get like higher incidents of stroke, there’s a long list of things that it could come with,” she explained.

The Flint resident said she believes she got psoriasis because of the decision made nine years ago to switch to the Flint River as the Vehicle City’s drinking water source.

“I started getting bumps in 2014, and then really in 2015. Starting on my elbows, and then where the shower water was hitting me, I had a lot on my chest. I didn’t really talk about it because it feels very private. And then it just spread from there. And it got really bad in 2015 and it’s been bad since,” Munroe-Younis said.

She said this is something that will be with her the rest of her life, a result of a man-made choice that could’ve been prevented.

“I’m pissed that the people who were initially charged have been let off the hook,” Munroe-Younis said. “There’s no accountability. I want to make sure that my medical bills are paid.”

While Munroe-Younis described what happened to her as maddening, she said she really worries about all the kids who have been affected by the water crisis.

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