TORONTO – Jessica Dalessandro has family living just outside of Flint, Michigan and has heard the stories of despair.
The ongoing water crisis in the small city of 100,000 people has created a desperate need for outside help so she’s decided to try and do what she can.
“I don’t know if that sounds selfish,” Dalessandro said.
“I feel best about myself when I’m doing something for someone else.”
The 28-year-old recently made her second trip from Mississauga across the border to Flint to deliver 100 cases of bottled water.
Her first trek meant loading 50 cases into the back of car with the help of her friend Lexi. This time, she was able to borrow a friend’s truck.
After more than 5 hours, including a stop to pick up the water in London, Dalessandro was met by American Red Cross volunteers at Lincoln Park United Methodist Church.
“It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of support that we had from all over the place and now Canada,” volunteer organizer Maurice Mastin said.
The church, which also provides a soup kitchen for those in need, offers the chance for residents of Flint to stop by and pick up water free of charge when needed.
“It’s amazing when you don’t have water what you really use water for you don’t think about it,” Mastin said.
“You just take it for granted.”
It was two years ago when the people of Flint began to notice a difference in the drinking water. The taste was off. The colour began to turn yellow or brown.
In 2014, the state of Michigan decided to switch Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to the local Flint River to save some money.
The water from the Flint River, though, was tested and found to be corrosive. Lead from pipes and service lines in the city began to erode.
More tests from researchers at Virginia Tech University found the lead levels in the water to be 10 times more than the standard set as acceptable.
Daniel Morones has lived in Flint for 45 years and has friends who became sick, they say, because they were drinking the untreated water.
“I first I thought well this can’t be happening,” Morones said.
“Why are we paying (for) all this water and yet we are not being provided with good water from the city?”
Morones was one the people at the church ready to pick up a couple of cases soon after Dalessandro dropped them off.
“We find places that are giving water to us and we load up for my friends and family,” he said. “I thank Canada for helping out.”
Within a couple of hours after arriving in Flint, Dalessandro was back on the road again, headed home to Mississauga.
“Every time I come I want to feel a little bit bigger, she said. “I’m so glad that I was able to do a little bit more this time.”
To this point, Dalessandro has received a few donations to help with the cost of water and travel. She has since started a GoFundMe page to raise more before another trip in a couple of weeks.