FLINT, Mich. - General Motors, UAW, and mass credit. They were all born in Flint, Michigan. But that's not what the city's known for in 2016. Today, it's a toxic mess and it could take $1 billion to clean up this once-thriving American city. How did we get to this point? How did we go from a booming, rich, city to a rundown health crisis?
If you drive through Flint today, you may not believe what we're about to tell you: the city was once wealthy. So wealthy, in fact, that they didn't need the toxic water that was spewing out of the Flint River. That water got so toxic that you could clean brass with it. Instead, they could afford to bring in water from Detroit - 70 miles away.
Then, the city went broke - and fast. jobs went to Mexico and they suddenly didn't have as much extra cash to spend. So the state went looking for ways to trim the budget. In 2014, they found $2 million in the city's pipeline from Detroit. Gov. Rick Snyder and his men ordered the people who remained in the city to drink the water from the Flint River.
Today, the children of Flint have poisonous levels of lead in their blood and ten adults have died from Legionnaire’s disease, a waterborne virus. Though the deaths haven't officially been linked to it, the primary suspect is the Flint River. How did an American city fall so far, so fast?
Let's go back to a few years ago. Republican Governor Rick Snyder took away the power of the city's elected officials and gave it all to an emergency financial manager. That manager ordered Flint to leave Detroit's water for a new, cheaper system. But there was a problem: it wouldn't be ready for two years so the city would have to drink water from the Flint River.
All of this was to save $2 million. The final decision was made by State Treasurer Andy Dillon and the elected leaders - who had no real power - approved the idea.
Now, Flint's aging pipes are ruining the clean water from Detroit. The pipes are corroded and lead from them is leaching into the tap water for the people to drink.
Aside from the lead poisoning, how could Gov. Snyder possibly not know the water wasn't fit for a pig? Especially considering the water was contaminated with fecal matter and citizens were told to boil it. To solve THAT problem, authorities poured in chlorine to kill the bacteria. But they poured so much, it created a toxic bomb that's harmful to infants and the elderly.
General Motors said the water was corroding parts, so they stopped using it. Flint's citizens didn't get that option and continued to drink it and bathe in it.
Now this bombshell: The Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department of Environmental Quality knew there were dangerous levels of lead. Here are the names of the people they told: none.
For a year and a half, residents were blown off about their concerns that it smelled funny and tasted awful. It wasn't until independent tests by a scientist and doctor found the dangerous levels of lead. The price to fix it could run into the billion, but it's nothing compared to the cost of the health effects on children, which is still unknown.
That's how Flint got to this point. That's how State and Federal leaders let this once-great American city, down.
Who's to blame for the mess? Everyone. The government, big business, and yes, the media. The cries from Flint were loud and clear yet we all stood by and did nothing to help.
Rich, poor, middle class, nobody deserves that kind of response from any of us.