By Jan Worth-Nelson
The State of Michigan’s decision to stop supplying bottled water as of Friday the 13th “is crap,” community activist Carma Lewis said today, pausing at the Flint Farmers’ Market to reflect on the pending cutoff.
“I’m not sure if the water is going to last till then,” she said. “They [the State] said they were not going to purchase any additional water so at this point it’s a question of how much is left in the Food Bank warehouse.”
Gripping a plastic water bottle, Lewis, 50, community outreach coordinator for the Flint Action Coordination Team (FACT) said, in essence, “The State abandoned us a long time ago. They keep saying the lip service that ‘we’re still here, we still support you,’ but actions speak louder than words.
“They just want to wash their hands of us. Snyder [Gov. Rick Snyder, term-limited out as of the 2018 election] is out of there, and as long as we, the city of Flint residents keep standing up and speaking up, it goes against their plan.”
“But they did not plan on the people of the city of Flint being smart,” she said.
Lewis said she was especially galled by the announcement of the water distribution cutoff almost coinciding with the state’s decision to allow Nestle to pull more groundwater out of Northern Michigan.
“That is not cool — it goes to show how much they don’t care about residents. And if it can happen here in Flint, it can happen in any city in the state.”
Lewis recommended that one thing residents can do is attend upcoming hearings on the involuntary manslaughter charges brought by State Attorney General Bill Schuette against Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Eden Wells, the state’s chief medical officer. The charges are based on alleged culpability in the spike of Legionnaires disease recently scientifically linked to the use of chlorine in the water following the switch to Flint River water in 2014.
“We want to see somebody from the State of Michigan bound over,” she said. “When we’re not there, it sends a message that we don’t care. So I hope people will show up.”
Lewis’s long-term prognosis for the city’s recovery is not bright, particularly in light of the state’s water cutoff — a reminder that the water crisis isn’t yet over.
Asked when or if it would ever be over, a weary Lewis replied, “It’s going to be a long time. When will trust in government happen again? I don’t see it happening in this generation.”
She also expressed dismay at the current campaign by Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards to discredit the research team, known as Flint Area Community Health and Environment Partnership [FACHEP} who did the Legionnaire’s research–a group headed by Wayne State professor Shawn McElmurry, University of Michigan researcher Nancy Love, and two Kettering University professors, Laura Sullivan and Ben Pauli.
“Marc Edwards served a purpose for the residents of Flint, and that’s long gone and over,” Lewis said. “For him to try to spit venom on another scientist who’s serving an additional purpose — it’s ugly.”
“I’m no scientist, but they were able to get their work published, and other scientists said this is right, this is good information — who is Marc Edwards to go against it?”
Despite all the setbacks and side battles, Lewis, one of the most visible and ferocious activists during the water crisis, says she still cares intensely and will keep fighting.
“This is my home,” she said.
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.