•To the People of Flint Michigan From Residents of West Virginia

February 8, 2016
  • To the People of Flint Michigan,
    We are parents, teachers, faith-leaders, students, business owners and residents of West Virginia—and we stand with you. These last weeks, we have seen you in the paper and on the news: a mother with her
    children outside of a community center waiting to receive bottled water; preachers giving comfort in packed emergency rooms filled with scared neighbors; protesters gathering and calling on their government offcials to take action.
    Two years ago, we stood in those same lines, visited local emergency rooms, and demonstrated in the halls of power because our water, too, had been poisoned. A chemical tank failure contaminated the
    water of 300,000 people across nine counties surrounding our capital city of Charleston. In the few short months following the West Virginia Water Crisis, we learned that our water company, our Public Service
    Commission, our legislature, and state, local and federal regulators were failing us at all levels. What’s more, no officials were willing to take responsibility for the crisis and each passed the buck to the next, pointing to one another’s failings. The truth is, they all failed us.
    Today, we stand alongside you as you grieve and rage. We know that no gesture on our part can erase  the damage that untold amounts of lead poisoning has wrought on your children’s bodies—their growth and  development. We know that it’s not only your bodies that were damaged, but also any trust you’d placed in your government officials. We remember what it’s like to be told that our water was “safe” when our bodies told us it wasn’t.
    And we know that it was no mistake that this crisis happened in Flint, a predominantly Black community and one of the poorest in the nation. We recognize that communities of color and communities
    with high poverty rates, such as those counties affected by the West Virginia crisis, are at the greatest risk for water disasters across America. We live in a nation where environmental racism persists.
  • Working together across race and class in the aftermath of this disaster, we are making real change.
    We don’t have all the answers, but we are gaining ground for safe, reliable water here in West Virginia, as you are in Flint, Michigan.
    We are with you.
    — The People of West Virginia
    Advocates for a Safe Water System
    American Friends Service Committee
    Appalachian Catholic Worker
    Catholic Committee of Appalachia (WV Chapter)
    Charleston WV Branch NAACP
    Christians For The Mountains
    Coal River Mountain Watch
    Concerned Citizens of Roane County
    Covenant House of West Virginia
    Doddridge County Watershed Association
    Friends of Water
    Greenbrier River Watershed Association
    Huntington-Cabell Branch of the NAACP
    Kanawha Forest Coalition
    Keeper of the Mountains
    MelRose Ministries for Positive Transformative
    Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance
    Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
    People Concerned About Chemical Safety
    Plateau Action Network
    POWHR (Preserve Our Water, Heritage, Rights)
    Preserve Greenbrier County
    Preserve Monroe
    RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountains’ and People’s
    Southern Appalachian Labor School
    Stories From South Central, WV
    West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy
    West Virginia Chapter of Sierra Club
    West Virginia Citizen Action Group
    West Virginia Clean Water Hub
    West Virginia Direct Action Welfare Group
    West Virginia Environmental Council
    West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition
    West Virginia Interfaith Power and Light
    WV FREE (West Virginia Focus: Reproductive
    Education and Equality)
    West Virginia Rivers Coalition
    Crystal Good @cgoodwoman
    Ellen Allen and Sue Julian
    Karan Ireland
    Maya Nye
    Paula Swearengin
    Shirley Rosenbaum