What Happened In Flint, Michigan? Hillary Clinton Closes The Democratic Debate With A Surprising Call

During her closing statements at Sunday's Democratic presidential debate, candidate Hillary Clinton gave an impassioned speech on a topic that had gone wholly undiscussed throughout the entire evening: the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan. Clinton urged her fellow politicians and the public to join in her outrage and action over the crisis, for which President Obama had declared a federal emergency on Saturday. But what happened in Flint to make the former secretary of state so angry?

Flint has been suffering under a poor water plan for years now. Nearly two years ago, the city switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River, known to long-time residents as practically a dumpster for waste. Though the switch was only supposed to be temporary while the financially-stricken city cut costs and built a new water line reconnecting them to Lake Huron, the town is still reeling from the change to this day.

Soon after the switch took place, residents noticed that their water had begun to look dirty, and that both the taste and smell were off. Water from the tap would often come out looking brown. According to a class-action lawsuit filed by a resident, the color was a result of iron in the water. Because the Flint River did not have the proper corrosion control, iron was eroding from the main water lines and dispersing into the river ― and consequently, into the residents' drinking and bath water.

A study conducted in August by researchers from Virginia Tech discovered that not only was there lead in the water, but it was also toxic to drink. This despite local officials' insistence that the water was safe for drinking. The class-action lawsuit filed in November of last year alleges, based on the Virginia Tech research, that residents suffered lead poisoning and other illnesses as a result of the unsafe water. A similar report released in September stated that a rare outbreak of Legionnaires' disease, thought to be related to the water crisis, had already infected 100 and killed 10.


Now, Clinton wants to take action for the residents of Flint. She made a call during her closing remarks for the city:

... I spent a lot of time last week being outraged by what's happening in Flint, Michigan and I think every single American should be outraged. We've had a city in the United States of America where the population which is poor in many ways and majority African American has been drinking and bathing in lead contaminated water. And the governor of that state acted as though he didn't really care.

After learning about the crisis last week, Clinton said that she sent one of her top aides to the ground, released a statement through her campaign, and went on television to personally call out Gov. Rick Snyder for not acting. Within two hours, Clinton claims, the governor changed his tune. The former Secretary of State felt that racial and income inequality was a large reason for the failure to act.

Now, the city will hopefully get back on track to healthy drinking water. Clinton has called for a Justice Department investigation into Flint's officials, that the state pay for clean drinking water until it is safe again, and that the Obama Administration set up a health monitoring system to test residents for lead poisoning. Given this ongoing, previously-overlooked crisis, it seems that Clinton really chose her closing words wisely.