In Flint, Mich., an old school once part of the St. Agnes Catholic Church is filled with abandoned cases of donated bottled water.
According to MLive, Flint resident Jimmy Cowell said he wandered into the structure with his fiancé and stumbled upon “hundreds of cases of bottled water.”
“We were pretty dumbfounded that anyone could leave that much water behind that this city truly relied on,” Cowell said to MLive. “If anyone wants to know where Flint donations went, it’s just sitting in abandoned buildings in stockpiles. This is probably a 30-by-50 room full of water.”
In 2016, a water drive was hosted at St. Agnes Catholic Church through donations from the Grand Rapids Latino community, according to MLive. The water from that drive was cleared out by the Genesee County Hispanic Latino Collaborative, CEO San Juana Olivares said.
“Those bottles of water weren’t left by our community,” Olivares said to MLive. “We took all that water out that same year. Our community helped make sure it was taken out and given to residents.”
According to Roberto Torres, who helped facilitate the donations along with two Latino radio stations in Grand Rapids, said his community was just answering Flint’s call for clean water. The radio stations made a call out to the community and residents began dropping off donations at the stations.
According to MLive, donations were loaded onto two trucks and delivered to Flint, where volunteers from Grand Rapids and Flint passed bottled water out to residents.
“We were looking to serve the Flint community,” Torres said. “We just unloaded the two trucks at the church, we just delivered the water.”
Torres said he does not know who helped organize the event on Flint’s end and that he is not sure if the water in the building now is the water that was donated in Grand Rapids.
“Families were taking a lot of water while we there passing it out, so it could have been another delivery of water that wasn’t ours,” Torres said. “Isn’t there someone in general coordinating all of these donations?”
According to MLive, bottled water was distributed by the city of Flint using “water pods” funded by the State. The pods required residents to show identification proving their Flint residency in order to receive water. According to MLive, the city’s water distribution sites were shut down last year in April.