LEILA FADEL, HOST:
The state of Michigan has reached a $600 million settlement with residents of Flint over the city's drinking water crisis. The problems started in 2014, when incorrectly dealt with water corroded the city's pipes and leached lead into the faucet water, making people ill. We wished to hear what Flint homeowners thought, so we called Jeneyah McDonald. She is an alternative teacher and mother of 2 young kids. When my co-host Ari Shapiro satisfied Jeneyah four years back, in February 2016, she had actually taught her kids an actually important lesson.
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JENEYAH MCDONALD: What did I tell you about that water? It's toxin (laughter).
FADEL: We've continued to check in with her throughout the years, and she joins us once again now. Invite back.
MCDONALD: Thank you.
FADEL: So Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called this a step toward making amends. How do you feel? What's your reaction to the settlement?
MCDONALD: It's like a little ray of sunlight for me and for my family. My greatest fear is that everyone will forget Flint. It will get swept under the carpet. And nobody will remember. So I'm really delighted to understand that our terrific governor kept her pledge about keeping this on her fore part of her mind and that Flint residents matter.
FADEL: Much of the money will be committed to kids who are 6 years or more youthful when initially exposed to the infected water. And your boys, Justice and Josaiah, fall into that category. Will you be looking for settlement, and is it enough?
MCDONALD: There is no quantity that will be enough ever. If each of us got the 600 million each, that still would not replace the damage that was done. I have extremely friends who lost moms and dads to Legionnaires. I'm still under the belief that my boy's autism is an outcome of this lead-tainted water.
MCDONALD: So there is no quantity of money that might change or perhaps attempt to comfort long-lasting things like that.
FADEL: Are you going to look for settlement?
MCDONALD: One hundred percent, yes.
FADEL: And, you understand, I've been thinking of this. You have not been on the program because the pandemic started. And I've truly wondered how COVID-19 has actually affected you and your next-door neighbors, particularly with all this necessary extra handwashing.
MCDONALD: Big, big quantity of tension. You currently attempted to sort of limitation how much you were playing or in the water or attempting to wash your hands, but now you do not have a choice. I can deal with whatever little damage that lead is possibly doing to my body, ingesting it through my skin, but I can't endure COVID. I have a, you understand, a autoimmune disease with my lupus. So I believe it will take me out. So I'll take my opportunities washing my hands with the Flint water versus getting COVID.
FADEL: You understand, during that last interview, you told us Flint is home. And you wished to see change occurring in your city. Do you see that modification occurring?
MCDONALD: Leila – (laughter). Being completely honest, I made with our last administration. We simply recently got a brand-new mayor.
FADEL: And you're referring to Flint's mayor, Sheldon Neeley, who entered office in 2019, right?
MCDONALD: Correct. I'm still waiting to see what his term is going to appear like.
FADEL: And what do you want?
MCDONALD: I desire transparency. I wish to know that everyone has safe lines going to their houses. I want to know that everybody have access to water if they don't have safe lines, which – that is gone. And making certain that filters are available. There is nowhere, nobody offering totally free filters to residents in Flint. All of that stuff stopped. I would love to understand that in the future, because of the lead-tainted water, that our children in 10, 15, 20 years will have the support that they require when things start coming out because of this lead. and I don't believe that $600 million will cover all of that.
FADEL: Yeah. That's Flint resident Jeneyah McDonald. Thank you a lot.
MCDONALD: Thank you.
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