News / USA

    Volunteers Key to Aiding Flint Residents During Water Crisis

    Volunteers Key to Aiding Flint Residents During Water Crisisi
    X
    March 04, 2016 5:38 AM
    As word of the water crisis in Flint spread, thousands of volunteers from around the country descended on the central Michigan town to help. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the American Red Cross is one of many organizations working to provide safe drinking water to those who live in Flint, with no immediate end to the crisis in sight.

    "It’s a basic human need. You can’t survive without water," says Virginia Bielasco, one of an army of volunteers who have descended here to perform one basic mission: get safe, clean water to those who need it, which is just about everybody who lives here.

    As word of the water crisis spread, thousands of volunteers from around the country descended to offer help to residents of this struggling city in the Midwestern state's southeast. The American Red Cross is one of many organizations working to provide safe drinking water in a crisis with no immediate end in sight.

    Bielasco’s home is in Byron, Illinois, about a seven-hour drive from the middle-class residential neighborhood where she is delivering cases of bottled water. The lack of safe drinking water is a problem that hits close to home, no matter where you live.

    "The most eye-opening experience for me is just to think that we’re in the United States," she said, "and here we have a city where the people cannot just turn on their tap and have reliable water."

    Keith Alvey is the American Red Cross division disaster executive managing the agency’s relief efforts in Flint, where the crisis isn’t the usual sort of thing the aid organization responds to.  

    :It’s just the water supply," he said. "It’s not as if we’re faced with a tornado where you can see where the damage is or a hurricane where the winds have taken out multiple parts of the infrastructure. It’s all concentrated in the water."

    But being a different sort of crisis does not make this less critical. Alvey said the Red Cross has mobilized more than 2,000 volunteers to respond.

    FILE - Lemott Thomas carries free water being distributed at the Lincoln Park United Methodist Church in Flint, Mich., Feb. 3, 2015.
    FILE - Lemott Thomas carries free water being distributed at the Lincoln Park United Methodist Church in Flint, Mich., Feb. 3, 2015.

    Biggest need: people, not water  

    Water here now comes in bottles instead of flowing from taps or shower heads. And the Red Cross, which is working with several different agencies in Flint to provide relief, says the biggest need isn’t more bottled water. 

    "There’s a need for people to go to all these different centers to help distribute water," said Linda Cieciek, a volunteer services specialist with the Red Cross.

    "They are absolutely essential," echoed Alvey. "It’s one thing to have a warehouse full of water. It’s another to actually get it into the hands of people who actually need it."

    Terence Johnson is one of those people. He has been dealing with the water crisis since December, and while he is grateful for the volunteers, he is growing weary of the wait for long-term fixes. 

    "Passing out water isn’t going to solve this problem. Fixing the pipelines will solve the problem," he said.

    Watch: How Flint's Water Became Toxic

    Explainer: How Flint's Water Became Toxici
    X
    Diana Logreira
    February 26, 2016 4:05 PM
    State of emergency in the U.S. was declared on January 2016. However, problems with Flint, Michigan’s water started in April 2014. Learn more about the roots of this crisis.


    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    March 04, 2016 5:31 PM
    The EPA dropped the ball. It was their responsibility and they failed us. Someone has to go to jail for the cover-up and intimidation of the whistleblowers. Start with the Governor, he was complicit and therefore culpable.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 09, 2016 3:24 PM
    1worldnow, the Flint City Council (with the Emergency Manager) did indeed vote to move to the new water supply - BEFORE there were reports of contamination. After these reports began rolling in, however, the Flint EM denied Detroit's offer to return to its water supply. When the City Council attempted to revert back to their previous water source, the state and EMs blocked it. Please do your research and spare us the whining about demonization of Republicans. "Evil white guys" were, in fact, responsible for forcing Flint to continue using that water.
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    March 07, 2016 10:13 PM
    You would be correct, jail all responsible. But you are missing something here. Flint officials (mostly Democrat and black), new the water was poison, yet, still allowed their babies, their citizens, their sick, their elderly, to drink this poison knowing they could blame the governor because he is white and a Republican. Evil has shown its face time and time again, yet the media loves to portray the Republicans as evil white guys.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora