Never Forget Flint

By Bob Brown, Associate Director, CCED Flint

Five years ago, on April 25, 2014, our water was switched from Detroit’s water system to Flint River water and our lives were changed forever. The river water was highly corrosive and it was not properly treated. As a result, lead leached out from aging pipes into thousands of homes. While there is no safe level of lead in water, the EPA states that action needs to be taken if lead in water exceeds 15 parts per billion. Here is part of a poem I wrote about my experience:

By the summer of 2015
We could hide no longer
Something was really wrong
Water filter distribution began
A trickle but we got one.
It was good up to 150 parts per billion
Thank God
Now we were really safe
I was protecting my family
Good up to 150 parts per billion
Couldn’t be better
Do you hear?
Can you understand?

I said, “let’s be doubly safe and have our water tested”
EPA calling early on a Sunday morning
You tested at 200 parts per billion
I was devastated
I had followed all the warnings
All the protocols
And yet my family was poisoned
I am the father
I am the provider, protector
I am failing
My heart breaking
Was it that high since 2014?
Why didn’t I do something sooner?
I am negligent
Trauma starts here

We are remarkably resilient in Flint. We continue to push forward—dealing with our health, dealing with our trauma, dealing with rebuilding trust, dealing with a man-made long-term health crisis that will affect us for decades. As community and economic developers, we must ensure that this never happens again. What happened in my home, my city, must never be forgotten!

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