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According to researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, a significant number of Flint, Michigan, residents are now suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression and some may be suffering from both conditions.
Five years after the water crisis, a survey of 1,970 residents aged 18 and older living in Flint discovered that 24.4% met the criteria within the past year for PTSD and more than one in five — 22.1% — met criteria for depression. An additional 14% met the criteria for both disorders as reported by ABC News.
In a city of more than 80,000 people, 22,600 Flint residents may have had depression and 25,000 may have had PTSD. Additionally, 14,300 could have both.
Environmental racism has impacted Black folks throughout American history
The Flint water crisis is one of the worst environmental crises in United States history, but it is far from the first.
When water was switched from one source to another, engineers did not properly prepare the pipes, which were corroded and allowed lead to seep in.
Since then, thousands of Flint residents have ingested contaminated water. According to the CDC, even a small amount of lead in water sources is unsafe.
Black and Brown people are more likely to live near environmentally contaminated communities. Such environmental racism goes back to the United States’ history of redlining, in which Black families were not permitted to live in majority-White areas. Black and Brown families were forced to live in areas that often included environmental contaminants, and even former toxic waste sites.
The hardships suffered by the people of Flint has recently been akin to yet another Black town in Jackson, Mississippi.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba makes it plain, “Jackson residents are worthy of support, they’re worthy of clean water, they’re worthy of dignity and it’s humiliating to not have water in their systems, it’s humiliating for children to not be able to go to school and have to do virtual learning, and it’s humiliating for businesses to have to shutter because of these issues.”
Mississippi Governor blatantly disrespects the city of Jackson
Last Friday, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves called it “a great day to not be in Jackson” while attending a groundbreaking ceremony in Hattiesburg, roughly 90 miles southeast of Jackson, according to local reports.
“It is a great day to be in Hattiesburg. It’s also, as always, a great day to not be in Jackson,” he said, according to local television station 16 WAPT News.
Now that Jackson is now closer to the other side of the water crisis, its residents have filed a class action lawsuit against the city, its leaders, and engineering companies over ongoing problems related to the community’s water crisis.
According to the Daily Wire, the city’s already problematic water pressure system was overwhelmed by recent Pearl River flooding which extended a water boil notice and emergency declaration by Mississippi’s governor for the city of more than 150,000 people.
“The City of Jackson’s water supply has been neglected for decades, culminating in its complete shutdown in August 2022, leaving over 150,000 residents, 82.5% of whom are Black and over 24% are living in poverty, without access to running water,” the lawsuit stated.
While the long-lasting impact of Jackson’s water crisis is yet to be known, many of Flint’s residents struggle to cope with the after effects of not only lead poisoning, but the trauma that comes with not having access to life’s most natural and vital resource.