The contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has been major news in recent months. With nearly 100,000 residents in Flint, the catastrophe has devastated a lot of people in an already economically depressed region. Perhaps most demoralizing is the fact that the crisis was preventable. If the state government had taken proper measures to treat the town’s water supply, no one would have suffered. Truckers are there to help!
Truckers to the Rescue
It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of this kind of disaster. One industry that is bringing hope to the area is the trucking industry. Though this crisis hit one city, workers from the nation are responding, and truckers are there in an effort to alleviate some of the worst effects.
Background on the Crisis
Two years ago, Michigan changed Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. The state had been paying the city of Detroit for water and was looking to save money. The change was supposed to be temporary as the state prepared a new line to Lake Huron that would ultimately provide a more direct supply. It was an attempt to save money that would profoundly backfire, causing more harm than the savings could ever justify.
The water in the Flint River was visibly polluted, causing many residents to wonder what was going on. The water was brown; it also tasted and smelled bad. Even worse, however, was something invisible: lead. The state insisted the water was safe, but local doctors observed a sharp increase in symptoms of lead poisoning in children, such as hair loss and skin rashes. One doctor in particular, Dr. Hanna-Attisha, noticed that lead levels in toddlers’ blood suddenly tripled.
Eventually, researchers discovered that the state failed to treat the Flint River water with an anti-corrosive agent. As the water passed through lead pipes, lead entered the water, leading to lead exposure for as many as 8,000 children. Lead stays in the body forever, and lead poisoning cannot be reversed or cured. Repercussions include a drop in IQ and an increase in behavioral disorders.
Because the contamination occurred in the water-delivery infrastructure, one of the biggest challenges in helping Flint residents has been figuring out how to transport large quantities of clean water. Enter truck drivers who volunteer to deliver the goods.
In several coordinated efforts, truckers have stepped up to donate and deliver water and other supplies to Flint residents. In Troy, MI, Meritor employees organized the “Flint Water Haul,” collecting and delivering more than 4,000 cases of water to the people of Flint by truck. Jet Express, an Ohio-based trucking company, also collected and delivered water to Flint. Individual truckers have also participated in donation and delivery efforts. Trucker Jim Thomas helped a junior hockey team deliver 55,000 bottles (35 pallets) of water to a Flint Fire Station.
Thanks to the efforts of these and other truckers, the people of Flint have more clean water to drink. While this certainly doesn’t solve the crisis, it helps ensure that further damage won’t be done to Flint’s residents.