A federal judge announced a $626million settlement to victims of the Flint water crisis. Tens of thousands of people were affected by lead poisoning in Flint’s water system.
U.S. District Judge Judith Levy called the settlement a “remarkable achievement” that bestows “a comprehensive compensation program” for every person in the suit.
“This is a historic and momentous day for the residents of Flint, who will finally begin to see justice served,” said Ted Leopold, a lead lawyer in the lawsuit.
But many residents were not pleased.
“It’s a Band-Aid on a bullet wound once again for our city that is still coping with the residual effects of the water crisis,” said resident LuLu Brezzell, Michigan Live reported. Her daughter Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny, wrote to then-President Barack Obama, prompting the president to visit the city.
Brezzell has three children eligible for settlement monies. But she doesn’t think the settlement is fair, she said.
“Our community’s children are already struggling with the long-term consequences of the ongoing water crisis. The lawyers will win this case more than Flint residents.” she told the news website Michigan Live.
Lead levels spiked in Flint water after the city’s water source was changed, beginning in 2014, to the Flint River from Lake Huron as a cost-saving measure.
But the river water was corrosive, causing lead to leak from pipes and contaminating tap water. Residents and children began to get sick from the water coming out of their pipes in disturbing shades of gold and brown.
Nine people have been charged in connection with one of the country’s worst public health crisis, including former Gov. Rick Snyder and his former senior advisor Richard Baird. All have pleaded not guilty.
The charges filed range from involuntary manslaughter to misconduct in office.
Former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said the settlement was far too little and far too late.
“When will we get something reflective of what we are worth? When does that happen?”She told reporters. “We haven’t gotten it in the settlement … I mean, we just seem to be devalued people here in the city of Flint.”
Water crises also brought up issues of class and race. Since the collapse of the American automobile industry in that region, the city has been struggling. More than half of the city’s residents are Black.
“Here we are, another sad chapter of the water crisis,”Weaver stated.