91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Four years of the Flint water crisis: “We’re living through something that should never happen."

Protestor holding up a sign that says "Safe Water" at a Flint Water Crisis protest
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Four years have passed since the start of the Flint water crisis, and many residents still don't feel safe drinking the water.

Four years ago this day, the world turned upside down for Flint.

It happened as then-Mayor Dayne Walling and other officials officially switched the city's drinking water over to the Flint River -- and then toasted each other with glasses of that water.

That untreated water caused water pipes to corrode -- leaching lead into the water going into Flint homes and businesses. More than 100,000 people were exposed to high lead levels. And government officials, especially at the state level, dismissed the pleas of people who knew something was wrong with the water.

To discuss what has -- and hasn’t -- changed in Flint, Stateside sat down with singer/songwriter and performance artist Tunde Olaniran, who recently wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post titled “I’m a Flint resident. I'm done paying for water that is not safe.”

Listen to the full interview with Tunde Olaniran above.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody also spoke with Flint residents as they boarded buses on this anniversary taking them to a rally at the state Capitol.

Read what some Flint residents had to say below.

“We want some clean water ‘cause we’ve been too long without clean water. And they have to cook in ... that’s what bring me out here today. Governor Snyder need to hurry up and do his job and get us some clean water ‘cause we’ve been out of clean water for, like, a long time.” - Robert Mitchener

“Four years too long on this water. Here ya go, it’s outrageous. We ain’t got bottled water, but we pay outstanding water bills though, and can’t do nothing with this water ‘cause ... it’s ridiculous.” - Otis Powell

“It’s a disgrace to the community and the city right now that we still going through this after four years. You know. I’m a local artist here in the area, and I’m just coming here to lend my voice and show my support and let everybody know I’m serious, still fighting this fight with them. My brother has epilepsy, and the lead situation made it worse. You see what I’m sayin’? And right now, he’s doing good, he’s currently in Washington, D.C. doing the same thing we doing right now.

"The more they talk about how much money is being poured into the bottled water as we just looking at the people and things we still being faced with everyday, we gotta pay for this contaminated water that’s still poisonous and potentially gonna harm us in the near future. So it’s, you know, it’s real like ... mind blowing and kinda depressing, when you think about it.” - James Shepherd

“It’s really sad that you can go anywhere in America, you can pull up to a gas station, and get unleaded gas, but we can’t get unleaded water here. And it’s terrible. My wife broke out in a serious rash, she can’t wash her clothes in the water. Course we don’t drink it. She can’t bathe in it. So every morning I get up, we heat up about ten bottles of water every morning so she can just wash up. It’s just ... it’s a terrible situation, it really is. And all of America should be here with Flint, backing us with the crisis, because Flint’s not the only city to have this problem. A lot of old cities in America have this problem.” - Garel Davis

“Children’s teeth are falling apart, we have rampant ADHD. We also had a crisis with bed bugs because these people cannot do their laundry properly still, the pipes are not all fixed. And our [water distribution] pods are closed down. I’m getting calls from people that go and eat dinner with my pastor that they need water, they’re running out of water. I am going to the store and purchasing water myself to take to Franklin Avenue. It’s sad and they need to bring back our pods.” - Cassia Rainwater

“We need to free water. People is dying here, and getting rashes and everything. And I feel like that’s not fair, that y’all are turning off the free water because y’all didn’t fix it yet. But y’all can fix buildings and houses and everything downtown, but y’all can’t fix the pipes for us.” - Andia Coble

“Really, we’re no better off than we were at the start of this. I think the change is gon’ come, tough. Yeah. Think it’s gon’ come.” - Ryan Morris

Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
Related Content