DETROIT – Former Detroit Pistons star Rasheed Wallace published a letter in The Players Tribune Tuesday addressing the Flint Water Crisis.
The always-passionate Wallace has worked to bring clean water to Flint, Michigan during the crisis, and is hoping to get more help to the city's residents.
Well, I’ve been visiting Flint for the past year, so let me tell you the truth.
Some of the folks in Flint can’t take showers because their water is still poisoned with lead.
They have to boil water, pour it into the sink and then wash in it.
Yeah, a grown-a*s man has to take a bird bath. That sh*t ain’t right. It’s still going on today.
And it’s not going away anytime soon.
Wallace said he's not a water expert, but he doesn't need to be one to see that Flint needs more help.
I keep going back to Flint for one reason: the people. They still have hope. They just need to know that there are other people who still care about them.
They supported me when I was playing with the Pistons. There were a lot of people from Flint who maybe couldn’t really afford a ticket to a game, but they bought one anyway, or came down for the parade when we won the title. Handing out water is the very least I can do. I didn’t partner with any organization or agency. I just went on my own because that was the right thing to do.
Every time I go, I’m amazed by the people, but I’m sickened by the lack of help.
Don’t believe the hype that you hear about the water being fixed. That water’s not fixed. This sh*t ain’t over. Just because it isn’t being talked about doesn’t mean it’s over. Light still needs to be shone on this.
Flint, whose water source was switched in 2014 to save money while the city was under state emergency management, returned to a Detroit-area water system in October. But Flint's 99,000 residents still can't drink the water without a filter until the system has been made safe with corrosion-reducing phosphates, a critical step that was missing when Flint used the river for 18 months.
The state is still distributing filters and bottled water at spots throughout Flint. The state health agency says the decision on whether to shower or bathe with city water "is an individual one."
The water quality has improved, yet when it will be deemed OK to drink unfiltered is unclear. Another round of testing will be completed in early October. It's also unknown when Flint will receive water from a new regional pipeline that is to draw water from Lake Huron.
Lifelong resident Luke Waid said he remains so stressed about lead detected in his 3-year-old daughter Sophia that he had to leave his welding job at an aerospace manufacturer. "I'd get working and all I can think about is, 'Is she OK?'" he said. "It gets to be such a burden. I didn't want to leave her."
Before the crisis exploded, Waid, 31, and his fiancee Michelle Rodriguez feared losing custody because of her lead levels, which they worry cause Sophia's symptoms such as irritability. Waid said it's hard to keep a "positive mind frame," not only for his daughter but much of anything.
The state has allocated $234 million to provide water bill credits and other assistance, such as additional school nurses, healthy food to reduce lead poisoning risks and psychotherapy sessions. Much has yet to be spent. The Republican-led Congress is at odds over Democrats' calls for $220 million to help Flint and other cities replace pipes and clean their water.
The Community Foundation of Greater Flint has received more than $12 million in private donations to respond to the crisis.