Hank Winchester in Benton Harbor: Here we go again, another lead water crisis

Residents unable to use water in Benton Harbor

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Here we go again. Another lead water crisis, this time, in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

A crisis in another Michigan city that was already knocked down and on life support. Things haven’t been easy for the people here in Benton Harbor for a number of years, and now they’re dealing with a crisis that could kill. A crisis they can’t control.

Benton Harbor declared a state of emergency due to the water crisis.

Related: Benton Harbor lead crisis forces residents to rely on bottled water

As I walked through the lines at the water distribution center, I felt like I was right back in Flint in 2016. The lines were long and the need is great.

I heard from a sweet elderly woman begging for help.

I saw a small child with a rash on her arm.

I talked to the mayor who vowed to fix this mess.

How long will it take? We just don’t know yet.

It felt like a nightmare we had already seen play out in the Vehicle City. Yes, the comparisons are haunting, but we have some big differences here.

First, we (public, politicians and community leaders) learned from mistakes made in Flint. We can’t wait. This needs attention now.

Michigan Gov. Whitmer made a surprise, last minute stop here this morning. She came to listen. What do these people need? They need money and water. Right now, the money is being put in place to dig up the pipes and provide bottled water.

What they need from you… prayer. This city is tough. It’s financially strapped. The people here are resilient but I can tell they’re scared. They worry about their health and the health of their children. I can’t imagine how scary this must be for everyone.

Keep this city and its people in your thoughts. Yes, help is coming but I worry about the damage that’s already been done. The damage we may not actually see for years to come.

Stay strong, Benton Harbor. We’re here to share your story.

Related: Michigan governor orders urgent response to lead crisis in Benton Harbor

Benton Harbor water crisis. (WDIV)

About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.