We saw Flint coming. In fact, I’ve seen this whole national water crisis coming for years. I see these issues happen, I know where they are. I know when they’re going to hit. And I know they’re going to come up, year after year after year.
I know because tens of thousands of people write to me each month. I started creating a map and I have more than 10,000 communities across the U.S. recording their plights. People come to me, saying, there’s too many children on our street with cancer, or we’ve had too many high school kids die of brain tumors, or we live next to a superfund site and we think our water is contaminated. After one comes forward, then five follow, then 20, 30, more. I read hundreds of these emails everyday, and sometimes you have to be able to read between the lines. I can sense the urgency. I know when what people are saying is just not right. Some emails clearly speak volumes, and I’m like, we need to jump on this now. It’s about being responsive: Last February, when my investigator Bob Bowcock and I heard about Flint, he was on a plane the next day.
What has always stuck me the most were the instances where people’s health was deteriorating. This has been true from the time I was a little girl to my work in Hinkley and beyond. What’s that common denominator? It’s usually the water. The one thing that sustains us all.
Communities across the country have been dealing with lead issues for years — but they’ve always fallen on a deaf ear. Flint is simply the perfect storm.