Groups fundraise for Flint

Destiny Hosmer

Online Content Editor

Troy University’s Residence Hall Association and Students for Liberty plan to raise money for the residents of Flint, Michigan, amid the ongoing water crisis affecting the area.

Flint switched from buying Detroit water to using the Flint River as its main water source in April 2014. Lead contaminants were then found in the water throughout the year, which resulted in multiple boil-water advisories from the city.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a boil-water advisory is “issued to protect the community from waterborne infectious agents.”

The idea to fundraise for Flint came about during a discussion about ideas for RHA’s philanthropy event.

“Once we discussed how terrible the water conditions were, we decided that it should be what we fundraise for,” said RHA president Kara Jane Henry, a junior mathematics major from Huntsville.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a boil-water advisory is “issued to protect the community from waterborne infectious agents.”

“I believe it’s important for students to be aware of problems happening outside of where we live and where we are used to, because it helps make a difference,” Henry said.

“Helping those in need far away from us creates a sense of family and helps those affected know that we support them and want to help them.”

SFL President Jeremiah Baky, a junior political science major from Dauphin Island, wanted to get his organization involved in the aid since the crisis was caused by government actions.

“I really wanted to get SFL involved because it (the water crisis) is a clear failure of government,” Baky said.

To combat the contaminations found in 2014, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality decided to flush the water system and increase chlorine levels.

In October 2014, the General Motors plant in Flint stopped using the city’s water because high levels of chlorine were corroding engine parts.

In January 2015, city officials warned residents that the water contained disinfecting chemicals that could cause significant health issues, including cancer, but the water was still deemed safe for the general population.

That same month, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department offered to waive the $4 million fee to restore water service from Lake Huron, but Flint’s city officials declined the offer due to cost concerns.

By the end of the month, city residents noticed significantly discolored water and children began to show elevated levels of lead in their blood.

In February 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency notified the state that dangerous levels of lead had been detected in a Flint home, but this was still not enough for the city to make the switch to other water supplies.

In the following months, the MDEQ assured Flint residents that the water supply was safe, and the mayor was filmed on local television drinking the city’s tap water.

By September, Virginia Tech had conducted a study that concluded that Flint’s water was 19 times more corrosive than Detroit’s. According to the study, the water tested in the home of one Flint resident had lead levels of 13,200 parts per billion (ppb), which is 8,200 ppb higher than water that the EPA deems hazardous waste.

According to the CDC, exposure to even low levels of lead can affect children’s growth, intelligence and behavior over time.

Unable to ignore the water contamination crisis any longer, the city switched back to Detroit water on October 16, 2015, but the transition was not immediate and the water-related issues continued.

On December 14, Flint declared a state of emergency and the MDEQ director resigned after the Flint Water Advisory Task Force concluded that the crisis was the result of failures from state regulators.

Since then, President Barack Obama has authorized $5 million in aid, but the effects of the lead linger in the city, where many rely on bottled water for cooking, bathing and drinking.

RHA and SFL will hold three separate fundraisers in April to raise funds for clean water in Flint and other items needed during the crisis.

On Tuesday, April 12, volunteers will collect donations from different resident halls. The change buckets will remain within the residence halls until Thursday, April 14, to give residents an opportunity to contribute throughout the week.

On Wednesday, April 13, RHA and SFL will sell cold water on the Bibb Graves quad for $1 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

The last event will be held during the week of April 18 with the exact time and location to still be determined.

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