The Flint Five: Showers, but no Snyder
This week, Flint resident Laura MacIntyre got to do something she hasn’t been able to do lately: Actually take a shower.
Laura and her family are in Washington, D.C. as part of the “Flint Five,” a group of Michigan families who travelled to the nation’s capital to share their stories about what life is like in a city with poisoned water.
MacIntyre told Michigan’s FOX 17 that she and her family stopped bathing and drinking the water immediately after Flint switched the source of its water supply, thinking something was wrong. “I am so frustrated and angry and annoyed,” she said, adding how grateful she’s been to take a shower two days in a row while visiting Washington. “We’re grateful for the bottled water, but taking showers two days in a row, I’m so ecstatic about that.”
MacIntyre and the other members of the Flint Five enjoyed their showers, but what they did not enjoy was getting snubbed by their Gov. Rick Snyder, who, through a spokesperson, turned down their request for a face-to-face meeting. Snyder testified before Congress on Thursday – a rare move for a sitting governor – and made himself available to the media both before and after his testimony. But, his spokesperson said, his schedule could not accommodate a meeting with the Flint residents.
“I think it’s sad that we obviously live in his same state, but we’re still trying to get a meeting with him, and now we’ve come to D.C. to ask him again,” Flint resident Keri Webber told the Detroit News. “He will not come out of his office and face us. We always get an aide. He will not look any of us in the face.”
On Wednesday, the Flint Five – actually, five women and their family members – gathered at AFL-CIO headquarters where they discussed life without safe tap water. They were joined via remote video feed by actor and water activist Mark Ruffalo.
On Thursday, the Flint Five were joined by three busloads of supporters carrying at least 150 people. The entourage came to witness the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s third hearing on the Flint water crisis.
At the hearing, in addition to hearing from Gov. Snyder and Gina McCarthy, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, they heard fireworks from the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland. Cummings said Gov. Snyder would likely face criminal charges if he were running a business.
“There is no doubt in my mind that if a corporate CEO did what Snyder’s administration has done, he would be hauled up on criminal charges,” Cummings said. “The board of directors would throw him out. And the shareholders would revolt.”
Meanwhile, at this late hour, it appears that members of the U.S. Senate will adjourn for a two-week Easter recess without passing legislation to help Flint as well as other communities whose residents’ health and very lives have been threatened by lead poisoning.
Pending in the Senate is the Drinking Water Safety and Infrastructure Act, S. 2579, sponsored by Michigan Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, both Democrats, and Sen. Jim Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican. Among other provisions, the bill would provide $100 million to be used in Flint for infrastructure upgrades.
The Coalition on Human Needs is urging its members and allies to contact their senators and urge them to vote now on this legislation. Let’s tell the residents of Flint and the many other communities that only now are learning of their own problems with lead poisoning that they deserve better.