National Geographic's Intimate Portraits: Flint, Mich., a City Where the Water Poisons

PHOTO:Siblings Julie, Antonio, and India Abram Wayne Lawrence for National Geographic
Siblings Julie, Antonio, and India Abram collect their daily allowance of bottled water from Fire Station #3. Located on Martin Luther King Avenue, it is one of five firehouses that have become water resource sites in Flint, Mich.

National Geographic has released striking portraits by photojournalist Wayne Lawrence depicting residents of Flint, Michigan, amid the ongoing tainted-water crisis there. The full story and images can be viewed from this link.

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An estimated 12,000 children have been exposed to lead-tainted water in Flint and a possibly related outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease might be linked to the tainted water, according to National Geographic. Flint has been reconnected to Detroit’s water supply system but lead remains a threat from the pipes, authorities say.

Meanwhile, Flint residents are left to do daily routine activities such as washing, cooking, bathing and drinking with bottled water. The following are portraits and the words of some of those residents, as seen in National Geographic.

Mary and Pastor Franklin D. Johnson

“I’m just hurt,” Mary Johnson says. “I’m devastated. Because they told us lies after lies (‘The water is OK’), and I believed in my government. Flint is not rich, it’s minority. Poor whites, poor blacks … and they knew about it? That hurts. If it wasn’t for the doctor at Hurley Medical Center, testing our children, we would be still drinking the water.”

Alvon Leighton

“You know how many babies here is affected now man, for the rest of their lives? And to my understanding and my little research it’s irreversible once you get lead poison in the brain," Leighton says. "It’s nothing you can do about it. And it’s like giving a whale a tic tac for bad breath man, giving us a case a water a day. How we supposed to bathe, man? I got a wife, and I got a daughter here. I need way more than one case of water now. The people in charge need to take responsibility for what they’ve done to this city, man! People out here are mad as hell man, and I’m one of ‘em.”

Nisa Lanoue and Brian Contreras

“There’s people out here that feed their kids formula. They’re feeding their babies and stuff with this water,” Lanoue says. “They have no choice because they don’t have a car to get out and go get the free water that’s being given. They don’t have the money to afford it and these kids are getting sick.”

Julie Bennett

Julie Bennett stops for a photograph after collecting her daily case of water from Firehouse #3. Located on Martin Luther King Avenue, it is one of five firehouses that have become water resource sites in Flint, Michigan

Julie, Antonio, and India Abram

Siblings Julie, Antonio, and India Abram collect their daily allowance of bottled water from Fire Station #3. Located on Martin Luther King Avenue, it is one of five firehouses that have become water resource sites in Flint, Michigan.

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