Louisville– Teams of Kentucky Baptists with expertise in providing clean drinking water to villagers in Third World countries are working in Michigan to install water purification systems for Flint-area families dealing with lead contamination.
“We want to bring hope and help,” said Coy Webb, head of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief. “Many people are hurting, and feeling like they have been let down.”
Webb said five Disaster Relief were deployed Feb. 15. Team members left from the cities of Benton, Beaver Dam, Hickory Grove and Simpsonville.
Lead contamination in the Flint water system has sickened children in a made-made catastrophe that has captured the nation’s attention.
Several local, state and federal officials have resigned since doctors revealed last year that using the Flint River for the city’s drinking water supply caused elevated levels of lead in some children’s blood. Lead contamination has been linked to learning disabilities and other problems.
Flint switched its water source from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River in 2014 to save money while under state financial management. The river water was not treated properly and lead from pipes leached into Flint homes. The city returned to Detroit’s system in October while it awaits the completion of a separate pipeline to Lake Huron this summer.
Michigan’s governor has apologized repeatedly for the state’s role.
In the past year alone, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief teams have been deployed to Zambia and Mozambique to ensure safe drinking water.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time we’ve been deployed within the United States on a water purification mission,” Webb said. “People in Flint are dealing with a problem that can’t be quickly resolved. The struggle is that this is a problem that could last for months if not longer.”
President Barack Obama has signed an emergency declaration, clearing the way for federal aid to help resolve the water crisis in Flint, where, for more than a year, parents had been complaining that the contamination had been slowly poisoning their children.
The three-person teams from Kentucky consist of a driver, an installer and a chaplain, all of whom have vital roles to play.
“These teams not only want to give families access to clean water, but they want to give them hope in the midst of crisis,” Webb said. (KBC)