The Flint water crisis is not over, resident activist says

A mother turned activist is fighting to keep the Flint water crisis in the spotlight.  Her family still living with lead-tainted water and she says the battle is far from over. 

"I mean the governor said he was sorry. Those words mean nothing if you don't fix what you broke," says mom and wife turned activist Melissa Mays.

You've met her many times in the past few years as the people of Flint have suffered through the lead crisis, but four years after the switch to the Flint River and four months after the state stopped supplying bottled water, the people are still struggling.

"They're already talking about it in past terms - like past the Flint water crisis and when this ended. We're like, when did it end? Because we still live here and it's not over," Mays said.

Back in April, the state declared Flint's drinking water safe and stopped supplying bottled water. It is true that service lines are gradually being replaced, but not here and not yet, and Mays says lead levels at her home are still sky high.

"We did a test May 29. My husband actually ran it in the kitchen and it came back of an average of 442 parts per billion," she said.

The EPA says lead levels in drinking water should be below 15 parts per billion. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality claims Flint's water has been meeting or below federal standards for two years, but Mays doesn't believe it.

"The lead hasn't gone away. This is just a few select homes the state's done to say, oh well that's better," she said. "We're people - we're not numbers, we're not test results, we're not addresses. We're actually human beings and I think that gets lost a lot."

Mays says she and her three sons will forever be impacted by their exposure to lead, but they're also concerned about what else might be in the water, such as bacteria and contaminants. She says the water destroyed her washing machine. They still have to drink bottled water and bathing means skin rashes and pain.

"There's other things besides lead in our water but we can't get anybody to listen to us," she said.

And there's a financial strain as well.

"We just are now buying our bottled water on top of paying our water bill. My payment this month was $307. The month before $345, the month before $350," she said.

But many people can't afford that and churches have had to step in as water distribution points. Lines are long and at some locations, there's no water to be found. Which brings us back to Governor Rick Snyder as he prepares to leave office, what's his message to the people of Flint?

Just last week Snyder and several others were dropped from a class action lawsuit from Flint residents and businesses. The judge cited sovereign immunity. FOX 2 was there as Mays got the news that she called a slap in the face.

"You shouldn't be protected by your job if you didn't do your job," she said. "It's once again another slap in the face like we're just being dismissed like our real life damages and our real life suffering that continues.What is it 1,560 days now? Right around there? Is being ignored. ... They're trying so hard to dismiss what's been done to us - if they would try that hard to actually fix us and help us, we would be in a totally different world right now."