Benton Harbor residents speak out after elevated levels of lead found in the water

Nicole Hester - MLive

Oct 28, 2021

"We have a national crisis here, the urgency is not happening."

BENTON HARBOR — Benton Harbor City resident and activist Nathan Smith stands outside of his home on Friday, Oct. 22 in Benton Harbor.Residents have been encouraged to use bottled water due to elevated levels of lead. While water distribution sites have been set up throughout the city, Smith said it is a bandaid fix. “We have a national crisis here, the urgency is not happening, people’s lives are being altered,” Smith said.

Mario Fonseca, warehouse coordinator facilities the sign-in and water distribution outside of Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency. Cases of bottled water are loaded onto wood plates before being distributed outside of Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency (SMCAA warehouse at 331 Miller Street, on Friday, Oct. 22 in Benton Harbor. According to the SMCAA website, City residents can receive up to two cases of bottled water at SMCAA warehouse Monday, Tuesday and Friday from the hours of 10 am-2pm.

Two cases of bottled water sit in the backseat of Benton Harbor City resident and activist Nathan Smith’s car outside of his home on Friday, Oct. 22 in Benton Harbor. Residents have been encouraged to use bottled water due to elevated levels of lead. Smith said he has been dropping off bottled water to his neighbors.

Residents wait in their cars for water distribution at God’s Household of Faith church on Pipestone Street on Friday, Oct. 22 in Benton Harbor. While there were notices the distribution would occur from from 2-6 pm Friday, residents ended up leaving empty-handed after no one showed to assist in the distribution. Residents have been encouraged to use bottled water due to elevated levels of lead.

Benton Harbor City resident Stacy Branscumb stands in his backyard on Friday, Oct. 22 in Benton Harbor. Residents have been encouraged to use bottled water due to elevated levels of lead. Banscumb said since 2018 this has cost his family financially, from having to stay at motels to take showers and buying bottled water. "Its like a whats next moment, I don't know how to deal with it," He said.

Yvonne Vidt, program manager, and Kim Smith Oldham, executive director, stand together outside of the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency. Residents have been encouraged to use bottled water due to elevated levels of lead. According to the SMCAA website, City residents can receive up to two cases of bottled water at SMCAA warehouse Monday, Tuesday and Friday from the hours of 10 am-2pm.

Residents wait in their cars for water distribution at God’s Household of Faith church on Pipestone Street on Friday, Oct. 22 in Benton Harbor. While there were notices the distribution would occur from from 2-6 pm Friday, residents ended up leaving empty-handed after no one showed to assist in the distribution. Residents have been encouraged to use bottled water due to elevated levels of lead.