Pallets of water

Pallets of bottled water are being distributed by the National Guard in Flint — FEMA/Patricia Brach

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is supporting the Presbytery of Lake Huron (Flint, Michigan is in this presbytery) in their support to the people of Flint, Michigan especially the high proportion of low-income residents who are unable to afford safe drinking water.

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has been widely covered in national news. Dangerous levels of toxic lead have been confirmed in the city water supply, creating an ongoing community health crisis, with levels of lead in children’s blood having tripled in many cases. Because the lead in the infrastructure pipes has been breached, it is unknown how long this crisis will persist, as leaching with continue even with less corrosive water in the system. The need is immediate and ongoing for the foreseeable future.  The effects of lead poisoning in children may not become apparent for up to 10-15 years. There is a critical need for public health education and long-term community based monitoring and wellness education.

PDA Response

Funds have been provided to support efforts, which include but are not limited to:

  • Distribution of emergency water supplies, filters, and filter replacements
  • Community education on lead poisoning awareness and treatment
  • Identifying and reaching at-risk homes and families
  • Working cooperatively with community emergency response efforts and local hospitals to fund the development of ongoing community health resources to monitor at-risk individuals.
  • Supporting the spiritual care and reconciliation in a community that feels betrayed
  • Assisting Presbyterian churches in the affected areas test for and remediate lead contamination in their own physical plants


Flint: The Poisoning of an American City documentary

“Flint: The Poisoning of an American City” traces the timeline of the city’s interaction with the Flint River – from the continued abuse and neglect of both city infrastructure and environmental regulations, to subsequent population decline, through to Michigan’s 2013 appointing of outside emergency managers. This poisonous mix of factors created a crisis which has gone on for five years, resulting in record high levels of lead in the drinking water of the city.

The film intersperses with area residents (including parents, social workers, educators, pastors, and experts on water and health) with testimony at congressional and other oversight committee hearings to demonstrate how 100,000 people have been poisoned by lead, an irreversible affliction. No timeline exists for the remediation of the situation.

“Flint” explores the critical question of how this could happen in America and how this event should serve as a warning for the rest of the country. A recent report found that 5,300 American cities were found to be in violation of federal lead rules, and research published in USA Today detected excessive lead in nearly 2,000 public water systems across all 50 states. This documentary educates and inspires action, seeking to radically change how we view and value water.

For more information, see the Story Productions page of our website.

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