About two dozen cases of bottled water destined for Flint, Michigan, piled up Sunday morning at Mount Sinai Baptist Church Cathedral in Roosevelt, where a six-day water drive kicked off.
“It’s horrifying what’s happening there in Flint,” said the church’s pastor, the Rev. Arthur Mackey Jr., before delivering his sermon. “To deny people the basic privilege of clean water is an injustice.”
The lead contamination in Flint’s water system prompted Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder last month to declare a state of emergency in Genesee County, where the city is located.
“We can let the people in Flint, Michigan, know that they are not forgotten,” Mackey said. During the Sunday service, Mackey said a prayer over the bottled water.
When Virginia Scott Shim, 76, of Freeport, arrived at church, she found a young man to carry a case of bottled water from her car.
“We all need to help someone,” Shim said.
Similar water drives have been reported in at least a dozen states in recent weeks all over the country and in Canada. Beverage companies and entertainers also have pledged to send water to Flint.
The problems in Flint began when officials changed the city’s water source from Lake Huron to water from the Flint River in 2014. The polluted river water corroded pipes that contained lead. The lead then leached into the water going to people’s homes. Lead exposure can cause brain damage and developmental problems in children.
Roosevelt resident Mae Geddis, 48, organized the water drive that will continue through Friday afternoon. Geddis, an administrative assistant in the Roosevelt school system, said the public schools and the Roosevelt library have agreed to accept water bottle donations. She said word of the drive has spread thanks to Facebook and more drop-off spots may become available. A volunteer has agreed to drive the water to Flint, she said.
Geddis said she was prompted to act when she read about Flint’s water crisis on the Facebook page of a Baltimore minister.
“The worst part of it is that children are being affected by this,” Geddis said. She said the lead exposure in Flint threatened “a whole generation that’s going to be crippled.”
“Even if we just raise enough water for one family, that’s one family that we helped,” Geddis said.