Two truckloads carrying 70,000 half-liter bottles “are on the way to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan,” AmeriCares reported Jan 28. The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan works with 75 Flint partners, including church pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and community centers.
About 100,000 families in Flint are affected by the crisis, including many low-income families. More than 40 percent of city residents live below the poverty level – more than two-times the state average, according to AmeriCares. City officials are urging Flint residents to get their water tested and to consume only tap water that has been filtered to remove lead.
“The water crisis has placed an extra burden on families in Flint, many of whom were already struggling before the crisis,” said AmeriCares Associate Director of Emergency Response Kate Dischino. “Thanks to our partnership with Nestlé Waters, more families will have access to clean, safe water.”
The water crisis began when Flint switched its water supply from the Detroit water system to the Flint River in 2014. The river water caused corrosion in old pipes leading to homes from the system’s main lines, which has led to elevated levels of lead in the tap water. At the request of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency earlier this month.
The food bank is supplying water to its partner agencies and coordinating with the state’s emergency operations center, which is supplying water to fire stations and working with local law enforcement partners and Red Cross volunteers to distribute water filters and bottled water to homes.
AmeriCares, which works globally, has a long history of responding to U.S. emergencies, it said, “including Hurricane Katrina, the Joplin, Mo., tornado, superstorm Sandy and the 2013 Oklahoma tornadoes.”
AmeriCares and Nestlé Waters have been partnering since 2004 to supply clean water for U.S. families in crisis. Over the past 12 years, their combined efforts have brought nearly 8 million bottles of water to families in need.