The problems started in April 2014, when the city’s water supply was switched to a new, corrosive source as a cost saving measure. It took more than a year for authorities to publicly acknowledge that the water was unhealthy, despite the illnesses and complaints of residents in poor, majority African-American city. Several Michigan government workers have been criminally charged with covering up evidence of contamination.
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver spoke with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep about the crisis, the state of emergency, and the future of her city.
On what’s better — and what’s not — as the official state of emergency ends
That was why we thought this should be more than an emergency because we still can’t drink the water. And any time you can’t just turn on your tap and drink the water, you have a problem. Some of the things that are different from when this first started is things are, I would say, more organized as far as the distribution of the water and the filters.
We have more school nurses in place than we had. When this first started, we only had one in place, and now we have nine. We’ve been able to hook up young people to employment opportunities where we had the National Guard doing things before. We have so many young people that were unemployed and weren’t in school and that should be part of this process of healing their own community.
And so what we’ve done is employed them to do the water distribution. We’re employing them to deliver the food. And we’ve also been able to hook some of them up with the plumbers and pipe-fitters and other kinds of, I guess, trade jobs where they can be in an apprenticeship program and get paid and have a skill that …