Just Pretend it’s the Zombie Apocalypse

I’m going to do something uncharacteristic and tell you a little of my personal background.  I’m from Flint, Michigan.  I lived right in the heart of the city for two years, and spent the vast majority of my life in various suburbs of it.  Both of my parents worked there, my grandparents go to church there, I went to college there.  You may have heard of Flint.  Built & then abandoned by car manufacturing, crime & unemployment run high.  It’s been in the top 3 on the U.S. murder rate lists every year for at least a decade.  Lately, Flint has been in the news for having an undrinkable water supply.
Some people seem to think that the people of Flint voted to switch their water supply from Detroit to the Flint River because it was cheaper.  These people don’t know anything about Flint because anyone who lives anywhere near Flint knows that you don’t mess around with the Flint River.  Eighty years of industrial waste, they find bodies in there all the time, you certainly don’t DRINK that.  But our lovely governor Snyder appointed someone who knew jack-all about Flint, the residents, or the river, who had absolute power over the mayor, the city council, and everyone else who had actually been ELECTED to their positions, and HE was the one who made the call to run that filth into people’s homes.  It was every color except clear, little kids started getting rashes, people’s hair was falling out, but no, they said, it’s fine, boil it a little, everything’s alright.  Then they admitted maybe it wasn’t perfect and started giving out filters, but the problems persisted.  FINALLY, after A YEAR AND A HALF of the lucky people filling bathtubs bit by bit with bottled water, filling jugs at friends’ houses outside the city, and the unlucky ones just drinking it because they didn’t have the means to find another source, the powers that be said oops, there might actually be a problem here.
As it turns out, they had to put an awful lot of chemicals in the river water to make it safe to drink, and since nobody bothered to add an anti-corrosive to the mix (like we really need to be drinking that too), it was eating the lead pipes as it made its way into people’s homes.  The filters they gave out don’t remove the lead, and boiling the water only makes the concentrations higher. It’s actually so noxious that the few  factories that remain can’t use it because it destroys their machinery.  Oops indeed.
All that lead is now settled in the systems of thousands of little kids, and there’s no telling what the future holds for them.  They could have developmental and behavioral problems for the rest of their lives because the state wanted to save a little money.  Years from now we’ll be seeing them in mental health clinics, special education programs, and prisons.  They’ve switched the water back to the Detroit source, but the damage is done, the destroyed pipes are still leaching toxins and will have to be entirely replaced.  Who knows how long that will take, or how much it will cost.  The people of Flint can’t afford to fill bathtubs with bottled water, on top of the bills that the city is still charging them for unusable water.
Forget the question of how he still has a job, why isn’t Governor Snyder in JAIL?  If anybody else poisoned an entire city’s water system they’d be labeled a terrorist.  Meanwhile Nestle siphons millions of gallons out of Lake Huron and sells it back to us at obnoxious prices.  It looks like people who can actually fix the problem are finally starting to pay attention, now that Flint is in the media everywhere.  They’ve declared an emergency & sent the National Guard in to hand out bottles of water and filters that actually do work on lead.  U.S. Marshalls have been told to bring the emergency manager to a hearing after he declined Congress’s invitation.  I imagine Snyder will be next.  It only took two years.

Advertisements

Mackinac Bridge: 222 Miles

2015.04.27.001

No road sign can bring a smile to my face quite like that one. It shows up as you head north out of Flint on I-75, which isn’t an especially exciting drive but I love it.  Watching as the urban blight of southern Michigan gives way to rolling hills and then to the wooded paradise above the 45th parallel.  I ended up taking the interstate all the way instead of US 23 like I’d planned.  I had a boat to catch & things to do, plus after two and a half weeks on the road from Arizona I really didn’t feel like another meandering trip. Even a short one.

There’s a little bit of ice still hanging around on Lake Huron.  Not so much on the open lake, but enough of it is still clinging to the harbor that the boat actually struggled to shove it out of the way & get out into the open water.  All the years I’ve been coming here I’ve never had that happen.  At lease the boats are running, so it’s better than last year.

Anyway I made it to Mackinac Island in one piece, and thus ends the journey I started nearly a month ago in Sedona.