Street sign for Flint River Trail

Street sign points people towards Flint River Trail in Flint, MI. Photo by Michigan Municipal League via Flickr.

In America, it seems like we hear of a tragedy every other week. Shootings, robberies, abductions — it’s easy to force yourself to become immune when you flip through the news. One thing that people shouldn’t be overlooking is the Flint water crisis.

The water crisis began in 2014 when the state of Michigan switched Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. This saved the state some money but ultimately endangered Flint residents.

After the first few weeks, the people of Flint realized there was something wrong with their water source. The Flint tap water was so horrible that General Motors had to stop using it in their factory because it was corroding engine material.

It was later revealed by the EPA and Virginia Tech that The Flint River was contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, carcinogens and lead. This began a battle for Flint residents who demanded clean water from their state.

When residents began to notice their drinking water wasn’t safe, there was public outcry. People wanted answers as to why they couldn’t drink their own tap water without becoming ill.

In January of 2015, The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department gave Flint officials the option to go back to using Lake Huron as their water source. Flint officials declined stating it would cost them too much money in the long run.

A few months later, after multiple tests and studies showed sky-high levels of lead, the Flint city council voted 7-1 to resort to the Detroit water system. The city council was overruled by emergency manager Jerry Ambrose. Ambrose called the council’s decision “incomprehensible.” Once again, the only people losing are Flint residents.

Since 2014, there has been a well-documented war between the city of Flint residents and the Michigan State Government. Billions have been spent trying to correct this wrong, but it’s three years later and not much has changed. Flint residents don’t trust their water and have every reason not to.

It’s frustrating when there’s public outcry over random disasters, but the American people turn their backs on what’s happening in a state in their own country.

When a soccer team from Thailand was trapped in a cave without food or water, everyone was at the edge of their seats to see if they would be rescued. Billionaire Elon Musk even decided to drop everything he was working on to fly to Thailand and create a child-sized submarine to help rescue the children. The public support was incredible, but why can’t we generate this type of support for the people of Flint?

Is water contamination not glamorous enough for the help of billionaires and moguls?

It’s infuriating that there in an obvious injustice occurring on American soil, but Americans are fatigued toward every other disaster which dominates news cycles — they push this problem to the back of their mind.

Flint deserves recognition. Flint deserves help. Not the type of help only from a sleazy congressional leader who’s more worried about the money it will cost. But the type of help where someone can actually recognize the improper treatment the people of Flint have suffered from.

Flint’s water crisis is a perfect example of how elected officials in America only care about money and not about the people they represent.

Don’t turn your back on Flint — your city could be next.

Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or of its staff. Jacey Gonzalez studies journalism. She can be reached at jaceygonzalez@unr.edu and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.