Local sorority raises $20,000 to help Flint's water crisis

Sorority raises $20K for Flint water crisis

A group of women in Flint, Michigan, is stepping up to help those affected the city's ongoing water crisis, which they say the state has failed to address. As the state's budget cut funding for bottled water in April -- leaving aid for the four-year-old crisis in limbo -- the Flint chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha has raised $20,000 to provide clean water for their neighbors. 

"Here we are in 2018 and the water is still not safe because all of the pipes have not been replaced," Shirley Johnson, the group's president, told CBS News. "Here we are again, reaching out for help." 

The sorority, which is part of a larger international network of women committed to service in their communities, has been giving out water to Flint residents consistently since the crisis began in 2014. When things weren't getting better, Johnson reached out to Alpha Kappa Alpha's corporate office for help, and they delivered a $10,000 gift. The regional arm matched the funds.

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Alpha Kappa Alpha's Flint chapter has been holding water drives for the Michigan city's residents since the water crisis began in 2014. Courtesy of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Zeta Beta Omega Chapter

The $20,000 donation is the Flint group's largest single donation to date. When the water woes first began, the group raised nearly $80,000 from sources all over the country to help the city's citizens.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and Chief Public Health Advisor Pamela Pugh, both members of the sorority, cheered the latest donation.

"When they see there is a need here, they have stepped up and they're continuing to help and support us," Weaver said in a video posted to the group's Facebook page.

Flint's troubles began in April 2014 when the city's water source was switched from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint River, which resulted in lead contamination and other issues. The city declared a public health emergency when officials failed to properly treat the water and lead lines for corrosion.

Lead from old pipes leached into the water supply because corrosion-reducing phosphates were not added due to an incorrect reading of federal regulations. 

While the state says the system hasn't had levels of lead exceeding the federal limit for nearly two years, residents are still using faucet filters or bottled water because an ongoing mass replacement of pipes could spike lead levels in individual houses.

"We are back, not as bad as we were, but we're still in the situation where our homes don't have clean drinking water," Johnson said. "We will keep going until the crisis is over."

Alpha Kappa Alpha will kick off its latest water drive, thanks to the latest $20,000 donation, on June 30. Flint residents can pick up bottled water, filters and fresh produce from the group's location on the city's east side.