Flint Mother: Water Crisis Is 'Worse Than The Media Portrays'

Download Audio

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is releasing all of his emails from 2014 and 2015 related to the lead-tainted water crisis in Flint. The embattled Republican governor made that promise last night in his State of the State address, which was focused almost entirely on the crisis.

"To begin I'd like to address the people of Flint," Snyder said. "Your families face a crisis. A crisis you did not create, and could not have prevented. I want to speak directly, honestly and sincerely to let you know we're praying for you, we're working hard for you, and we are absolutely committed to taking the right steps to effectively solve this crisis."

Chia Morgan was one of the Flint residents in the audience last night, at the governor's State of the State address. She's a social worker and community activist who lives in Flint with her 3-year-old daughter Malia. She says she was disappointed in the governor's response last night - as she has been all along.

Here & Now's Robin Young talks with Morgan about how the water crisis is affecting her family and what she wants to see done about it.

Interview Highlights: Chia Morgan

On the governor’s apology

"When he said he wanted to talk directly and sincerely to us, a moment of hope came over me that he would be honest and that he would accept full responsibility, but I felt let down once again as he began to point fingers at federal and state leaders instead of focusing on what his role was."

When did you become aware of the problem?

"I started noticing changes in the water around the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015. The water smelled funny, it was discolored and cloudy. I observed all of this, but as it relates to the lead, it was about seven months ago."

Is your daughter alright?

"Yes, she is OK. She had a lead test in August and it came back that everything was fine. That was before the lead incident came out, it was just a routine test. But last week her doctor ordered that she have another lead test and we are still awaiting the results of that test."

What are you doing as a community organizer to help with this crisis?

"In November I organized a Thanksgiving dinner titled ‘Blessed to be a Blessing’, and we actually gave away cases of water to our dinner guests. I also went to some of the apartment complexes in the community and gave out cases of water. With having a daughter, it’s very heartfelt to me, it was something I couldn’t deal with, helping others on a daily basis, but this helps me feel like I’m doing my part while trying to keep her safe as well."

On living in Flint following the water issue, as well as GM leaving the area

"As I was getting ready with my daughter this morning, she asked me ‘why are we using bottles of water instead of using the sink?’ And I tried explaining to her in 3-year-old terms what the situation is. And a lot of the work I do in the community is related to GM leaving, so you’re absolutely right. This is the second slap in the face, as we were recovering, we're faced with this water crisis. With the community work that I do, I'd always said I didn't want to leave home, but if I have to keep my child safe, I may options in another state."

Who should pay for it if you have to move?

"There should definitely be relocation fees from the state. They shouldn’t have to foot the bill long term, but there should definitely be stipends to help people relocate if you can’t keep your family safe."

In what other ways is this situation affecting you?

"Her doctor wants her to take a bath maybe every other day so she is not immersed in the water daily. She cannot be in the water too long, and she had eczema, so her immune system is in a compromised situation, and the doctors recommend that she not be immersed in the water for too long because of that. So instead of being able to color and do our letters and other things that we do at bath time, the time has been cut down."

What about cooking?

"We cannot boil the water. That will actually exacerbate the problem. So there are jugs of water in the kitchen for cooking. Everything is done with bottled water basically."


  • Chia Morgan, social worker, community activist and parent who lives in Flint.

This segment aired on January 20, 2016.


More from Here & Now

Listen Live