By now most people know about the water poisoning situation in Flint. Lead is STILL leaching into the water and children are STILL showing acute levels of lead in their bloodstream. Lead has a relatively short half-life in the body and generally is undetectable a week after poisoning. So, the fact that children are still showing detectable levels of lead means that the acute crisis is still ongoing, even weeks after the Snyder Administration woke up to the public outrage. However, the scope of the crisis is often not appreciated by the public, or the media who are focused on the water itself. Lead in the water and replacing the water lines is only part of the catastrophe.

Many of the residents of Flint are impoverished and when they had to divert what little money they had to buy water they faced a choice of paying rent or getting water, getting food or water, etc. So there is now an emerging housing crisis in Flint with many residents facing evictions or foreclosures (the banks holding mortgages are not as exposed, or reactive, to public outrage). Other residents are struggling to get medical diagnoses and treatments. Undocumented workers have been unaware of the situation or afraid to seek help out of fear of the repercussions from authorities. Businesses, especially those in the restaurant and service industries, are going bankrupt, with ripple effects on the employees. In other words, this is a huge economic as well as social and health catastrophe.

Current estimates on the costs to infrastructure and the medical/social/educational support structures needed run into the billions of dollars. Some people are suggesting simply evacuating Flint residents and relocating them to other cities as a more expedient and cost-effective response. However, with residents becoming unemployed, homeless and not seeing much other than stockpiles of donated water (which are needed and appreciated), residents are essentially evacuating the area without any ability for medical and social support follow-up. Maybe that is the strategy of the Governor and Legislature: “study the problem for a fix” and wait until the problem (i.e. the residents) simply disappear from attention or from the City. Spread the problem around the State to disguise the true long-term costs. Turn the poor folk of Flint into refugees in their own country. Unbelievable.