By Kelly Sheridan
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter
This past year, Flint has made headlines with its ongoing water crisis. Since April 2014, there have been high traces of lead in their tap water, causing it to be unusable by its residents. Forty-five miles southwest of Flint, Meridian Township has less worries about their water system, but still send their sympathy to Flint.
“At first, I thought it was being exaggerated,” Michigan State student and Okemos resident Kasey Horan said. “But sadly, at this point, I just hear [stories from Flint] and think, ‘Oh great, here we go again.’”
People from all over the country have reached out to help Flint. Horan believes Meridian Township is no different and it is important to reach out to them, especially because they are so close in location.
“It’s important to help those in Flint because they’re our neighbors who can’t afford a basic need for survival,” she said.
This common desire to help others is in all of us, Michigan State professor of sociology Dr. Harry Perlstadt said, but it is highlighted when emergencies gain national attention because more people are aware of the situations.
“People and communities are willing to step up and help more than is commonly thought,” he said. “They want to do something and be a part of a response effort.”
According to Perlstadt, the situation in Flint can be related to other national crises, like Hurricane Katrina.
“The Flint lead crisis is on a much less dramatic scale [than Hurricane Katrina], but still may draw people to help,” he added.
One of the places that has been drawn to help is St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Haslett. Carolyn Fabro, the Director of Ministries at St. Luke’s Church said each month they do special outreach events and during the month of February they are collecting water for Flint.
Fabro stated they have collected over 20 cases of water from their parishioners and have also received a money donation from Meijer in Okemos. The Church will be able to buy over 100 cases with the donation.
“I think we need to look beyond our four walls and realize there are other people in our state that we need to help,” she added.
Many people believe the help efforts are restricted to simply just water bottles, but Horan believes there is much more to helping their community.
“There are more than enough opportunities to help with food, clothing, blankets baby supplies and other things through churches, but most people think only of water drives,” she said. “The people who live in Flint have said they don’t need more bottled water, they need running water to cook with and bathe with and wash things in.”
While the two areas are close in proximity, Meridian Township has ensured their residents they have nothing to worry about. According to their website, the township has a very consistent source of groundwater from wells that draw from a deep sandstone aquifer that is then treated to reduce hardness. While the well water only has a trace of lead in it, the softening process reduces that level even further.
The government has made certain that Meridian Township’s records do not show any lead services lines and ensure they will continue to check for them as service lines are exposed during road projects or repair activities. According to Horan, this attention to detail is what is going to prevent more situations like Flint from happening.
“I think it could make light of other situations possibly if they’ve already happened,” Horan said. “But, I don’t think it could happen from here on out, because there’s too much attention now.”