Filtering Lead-Contaminated Waters in Michigan. . . . UMCOR IS THERE!
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Churches have been working alongside government agencies to help people in Flint get clean water.
By Susan Kim
January 19, 2016—When the water in Flint, Mich., became contaminated with lead, the community of 99,000 residents faced a crisis that left many vulnerable to health problems, stress, and financial strain.
As the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state government, and National Guard respond, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is also assisting some of the most vulnerable peo-ple in Flint.
Supported with a $10,000 emergency grant from UMCOR, the Crossroads District of The United Meth-odist Church is working with government agencies and relief groups to provide filtration pitchers, replacement filters, and bottled water to people in Flint.
The Crossroads District first contacted UMCOR about the water situation in Flint in October 2015. “Together, we took a pro-active ecumenical approach to the crisis months before it became national news,” said Greg Forrester, who leads UMCOR’s U.S. Disaster Response work.
“We have eight United Methodist churches that serve Flint,” explained Peter Plum, emergency water cri-sis coordinator. Pastors of the churches met to discuss how to respond to the water crisis, and they agreed the best way to coordinate a church-wide response was to hire a coordinator.
Now Plum is helping to reach some of the most vulnerable people in Flint. “The county and the city are offering everything that we are offering in terms of filters,” Plum explained, “so we decided to get in-volved with constituents and neighbors that don’t necessarily trust the government.”
Funds became tighter for both government and non-government organizations when the water filters last-ed less than the expected time. “When this first happened, the water was so bad that a 90-day filter was lasting 30 days,” said Plum.