Operation Flint answers water need

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Photo by James Mitchell. Members of Taylor’s Community Emergency Response Team including Ruth Inman (left), Blaine Honeycutt and Theresa Garcia accept community donations Friday for Operation Flint. The multi-faceted effort collected bottled water through the week to help Flint residents in need during the city’s water crisis.

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR – Contributions large and small were ready to head north Friday, as city businesses, residents and officials brought Operation Flint to an end in the form of bottled water for fellow Michiganders in need.

The campaign was launched earlier in the month by a staff member of the city’s Public Works Department in response to the ongoing water crisis in Flint. The city’s contaminated water supply resulted in a state of emergency, and donations and assistance have been generated throughout Michigan and the country.

Co-hosted by The Home Depot and semi-truck provider Load One, collection began Tuesday in the parking lot of Home Depot, 11100 Telegraph Road, and ended with a final push Friday morning.

For three days volunteers collected contributions: Residents donated cases of water, including those made available at Home Depot for $3.74; businesses and other contributed entire pallets that cost about $300 each.

John Elliott, CEO of Load One, said the company contributed 20 pallets of water after Taylor-based Masco purchased six full pallets. Sizable contributions also received received from the Rotary Club of Taylor, Hennessey Engineers and Taylor Chrysler Jeep.

“We had to fill up a truck,” Elliott said of the first semi-load of the week.

The final loads – about three full semi trucks – headed north Friday for delivery to the American Red Cross, which is coordinating distribution in Flint.

“We just want to be a good neighbor,” Mayor Rick Sollars said. “It would be a good idea if other communities got involved, too.”

Others answered the call. Officials and businesses in Gibraltar established dropoff points in the city for Friday delivery to Taylor. James Taylor, Public Works director of Van Buren Township, delivered donations and helped load trucks Friday.

The water crisis in Flint has sparked national debate, factored heavily in Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address Tuesday, and sparked federal action in the form of a Federal Emergency Management Administration grant of up to $5 million.

Sollars said Operation Flint focused on a collective community response to a state of emergency just up the road.

“This campaign isn’t about blame,” Sollars said. “This is about helping someone who needs help.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at james.a.mitchell37@gmail.com.)