Responding to the water crisis in Flint Michigan – John Cole (“Mr. Cole”) – owner of Cole’s Place nightclub in Louisville, KY hosted a week-long #WaterForFlint campaign.
Cole has partnered with the West Louisville Urban Coalition which plans to continue providing fresh water to the residents of Flint throughout this crisis. Cole said that “Compassion” is what made him become a part of the humanitarian effort.
Beginning Sunday January 27, 2016, Cole’s Place transitioned from a nightclub to a drop off location for residents of Louisville that wanted to donate cases of bottled water to Flint, Michigan.
The goal of the organizers was to raise enough water to fill up a single tractor-trailer. However; the residents of Louisville would quickly surpass that goal within the first few days.
In fact, Cole’s Place would become so consumed with water donations that on the final day of the campaign, Saturday January 30th, the collection location was moved to the parking lot of Lyles Mall on 26th and Broadway.
From 6am-1pm on Saturday alone, Louisville residents dropped off enough water to fill up the tractor-trailer headed to Flint. This didn’t include the approximate truck-and-a-half of water that was collected over the week that still remains at Cole’s Place.
In addition to Mr. Cole, the collection efforts were also organized by Neal Robertson and James Baker. The local steel manufacturing company Eagle Steel, who is Baker’s employer, provided a semi trailer truck and driver – free of charge – to transport the collected water to Flint.
Baker commends his employer for stepping up to the plate and offering their services during this time of need. He said, “I reached out to the company I work for – Eagle Steel – and asked them if they’d be willing to provide transportation for the water to get to Flint and they came wholeheartedly and said, yes they wanted to be a part of it.”
Community Leader Neal Robertson tackled the duty of finding volunteers for the event and organized the advertising and public relations aspects of the water drive.
He is now in the process of arranging another semi truck to haul the additional water that was collected to Flint as well. “We have probably a truck-and-a-half over at Cole’s Place waiting to go out,” Robertson said.
The semi truck provided by Eagle Steel was loaded by dozens of Louisville residents who volunteered their Saturday morning to help make the campaign a success.
Among those volunteers were Staff Sergeant Steve Lonix and Tony Mazita of Louisville’s US Army Recruiting Office. The pair were amazed at the amount of water that was donated in the few hours that they spent at Lyles Mall.
Even after the semi departed at 1pm – several cars and SUV’s continued pulling up, filled to capacity, with cases of bottled water. “Actually we have too much water,” said Lonix. “The intent was to fill one truck – they actually have enough for about three trucks.”
The “Flint Water Crisis” describes the drinking water contamination that exists in Flint, Michigan. The crisis began in 2014, when Flint changed its water source from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department to an alternative source which was thought to save revenue.
The new water supply was sourced from the Flint River. The salt water from the river corroded the metal pipes which resulted in lead contamination in the drinking water.
The newly sourced water failed safety tests several times but city and state officials continued to supply the water to residents for the next nine months before notifying them of the potential dangers.
Residents had complained to city officials that their drinking water was “yellow-looking” for over a year but received no relief. Their total time of possible lead exposure is approximately 632 days.
In early January 2016, videos of Flint residents running tap water that appeared to be the color of urine began going viral on social media sites.
The public outcry resulted in celebrities and residents nationwide sending millions of fresh bottled waters to Flint as well as President Obama declaring a federal state of emergency in the city.
To date between 6,000-12,000 children in Flint have severely high levels of lead in their blood and are suffering from a multitude of health problems as a result. There has also been an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease (Legion Fever) in the area which has killed 10 and affected another 77.
Legionnaires’ is an atypical pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. Health officials haven’t officially linked the disease to bacteria in the Flint’s unsafe drinking water but haven’t ruled it out as a cause.
Due to the contaminated pipes throughout the city of Flint, it will most likely take years for residents to start receiving safe drinking water, even after the city switches to a safe water source, so donations are critical.
VIDEO BELOW OF YELLOW DRINKING WATER IN FLINT MICHIGAN