21 facts and photos behind Flint's devastating water crisis.

Flint, Michigan, is a disaster zone.

It's ironic a city in the Great Lakes State would supply its residents with unsafe drinking water, huh?

It's more than ironic, actually — it's inexcusable.

You've probably heard the news by now: Residents of Flint, Michigan, were poisoned with lead. Yes, a city of nearly 100,000 people was consuming dangerous H20 for roughy 21 months before anyone with authority stepped in to help.


Here's how the massive public health failure unfolded:

1. Aiming to cut costs, the emergency manager of Flint approved a big change in the city's water supply in 2013.

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

What's this emergency manager role, you might ask? Because of budgetary woes, Flint, at the time, was being run by a representative from the state of Michigan, Jerry Ambrose. (Yes, the idea of someone overseeing a city who was not elected to the position was already controversial long before the water crisis.)

2. Instead of buying water from Detroit, the city would begin getting its water from the notoriously unclean Flint River.

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

The (what we now know to be disastrous) change went into effect in April 2014.

3. The problem? The Flint River is so corrosive, it began stripping the pipes. And lead began seeping into the water.

Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images.

Lead, even in very small amounts, can cause detrimental health problems in children.

4. It didn't take long before residents noticed a difference. The water smelled odd, tasted off, and didn't look clean.

Folks also complained that they were getting rashes on their skin.

5. In late summer and early fall 2014, the city issued boil-water advisories after unsafe bacteria was detected.

Talk about a red flag.

A Flint resident uses bottled water to make coffee instead of water from the faucet. Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images.

But in October 2014, the state assured its residents "operational steps" had been taken and that the water should be in tip-top shape moving forward. Basically, "drink away!"

6. But get this — even a GM plant in Flint refused to use the new water because it began corroding auto parts.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

The city made arrangements for the plant to get its water elsewhere. As for the residents of Flint? Nope. They were stuck with what they had.

7. A year ago, in January 2015, Detroit even offered to reconnect its water system to Flint and waive the fees!

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

Flint's emergency manager's response? No thanks — we're good. (The move would ultimately be too pricey apparently).

8. Famed activist Erin Brockovich spoke out on the matter.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Flint, she said in a Facebook post, should be added to "the list of hundreds of cities, towns, and community water systems that are failing."

9. Things really took a turn in February 2015. An EPA manager warned Michigan officials of lead in Flint's water.

The EPA notified Michigan leaders that the Flint River water was stripping pipes and could be allowing dangerous contaminants — including lead — to get into the water supply.

10. Gov. Rick Snyder's chief of staff even admitted in an email that Flint's "getting blown off by us."

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

"These folks are scared and worried about the health impacts and they are basically getting blown off by us (as a state we're just not sympathizing with their plight)," Dennis Muchmore had written to Michigan's health department in July 2015. The public only recently learned about the email.

11. Soon after that email, an epidemiologist found lead levels skyrocketed after Flint switched its water supply.

We're still talkin' July 2015 — months before any substantial action was taken.

A water sample taken from a Flint home in January 2016. Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images.

Cristin Larder from the state health department discovered big increases in lead levels in July, August, and September of the previous year — the summer following Flint's water switch — and warned in an email her findings "warrant further investigation."

The state's chief medical executive, Eden Wells — who later pinpointed this revelation as a "missed opportunity" — had excused the increased lead as a mere seasonal flux.

Yes, a seasonal flux.

12. What's more, research from Virginia Tech found 42% of the samples taken from the Flint River had elevated lead levels.

A sign, seen here in January, warns residents to filter their water. Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards reported last September that the river's "very corrosive" water was wreaking havoc on the city. The state's Department of Environmental Quality not only dismissed those claims, they disputed them.

13. The same month, a doctor in Flint said children's blood samples pointed to a jump in lead poisoning.

Just like the research from Virginia Tech, however, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha's findings were not taken seriously by the state ... at first.

14. After initially dismissing Hanna-Attisha's claims, officials, pointing to a new analysis, admitted she was right.

Finally.


A Black Lives Matter protester stands outside the meeting quarters between Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and President Obama, where they discussed the crisis in Washington, D.C. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Seeing as Flint is predominantly black and has a very high poverty rate, many have argued the water crisis never would have happened in a white, affluent community.

15. In October 2015, the state announced it would give out water filters to residents.

Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images.

Other local groups, including Planned Parenthood, pitched in to help as well.

Flint switched back to Detroit's water supply in October 2015.

16. Earlier this month, both Gov. Rick Snyder and President Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint.

Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images.

Flint residents are not happy with the governor, to put it lightly. Protesters in Michigan's capital, Lansing, have called for Snyder's resignation.

17. The National Guard and American Red Cross are helping to provide bottled water to residents in need.

Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images.

18. Donations from across the state have poured in to help, too — even from some big names and a beloved football team.

Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images.

Cher decided to lend a helping hand — donating 180,000 bottles of water — and Muslim group Who Is Hussain Michigan and the Detroit Lions have pitched in, too.

19. Because of Obama's declaration, FEMA can give Flint up to $5 million in aid, too.

Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images.

20. But Flint will need so much more.

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

Mayor Karen Weaver understands her city needs more resources — in both the short and long terms — for Flint to fully heal from the devastation and stop it from happening again.

21. What happened in Flint has made waves nationally, even prompting presidential candidates to speak out.

The situation in Flint is, by no stretch of the imagination, a disaster. But you don't have to feel helpless.

What happened in Michigan is a (state-inflicted) tragedy. Thousands of children have been affected. A recent spike in Legionnaires' disease (possibly resulting in 10 deaths) may also be attributed to the water supply switch. And we won't know for some time the true extent — both economically and in terms of human health — of the damage.

Flint needs all of our support. Here's how you can lend a helping hand.

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Andy Grammer, the pop singer and songwriter behind feel-good tunes like "Keep Your Head Up," "Back Home," and "Don't Give Up on Me," has a new album out—and it is seriously fabulous. Titled simply "Naive," Grammer says it's "all about how seeing the good in todays world can feel like a rebellious act."

"I wrote this album for the light bringers," Grammer shared on Facebook. "The people who choose to see the good even in the overwhelming chaos of the bad. The smilers who fight brick by brick to build an authentic smile everyday, even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. For those who have been marginalized as 'sweet' or 'cute' or 'less powerful' for being overly positive. To me optimism is a war to be fought, possibly the most important one. If I am speaking to you and you are relating to it then know I made this album for you. You are my tribe. I love you and I hope it serves you. Don't let the world turn down your shine, we all so badly need it."

Reading that, it's easy to think maybe he really is naive, but Grammer's positivity isn't due to nothing difficult ever happening in his life. His mom, Kathy, died of breast cancer when Grammer was 25. He and his mother were very close, and her life and death had a huge impact on him.

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via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

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"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

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via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

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The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

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