Beyonce announced fund to help United Way efforts
Diddy, Mark Wahlberg, Cher, Aretha Franklin, Pearl Jam, The Game have also given big
Beyonce is the latest star to work to help the people of Flint, Michigan, who are suffering a devastating crisis after high lead levels were found in the city’s water.
The singer’s #BeyGood fund will support local United Way programs which are distributing thousands of filtration pitchers, faucet mount filters and truckloads of water to Flint residents, a statement released Monday said.
Her good deed comes after Cher donated 180,000 bottles of water to people in Flint, and actor Mark Wahlberg and Sean “Diddy” Combs donated 1 million bottles, according to TMZ.
Aretha Franklin offered free hotel rooms, food and money to families forced from their homes, the Detroit News reported. Rapper The Game donated $500,000 to Flint, the Daily Beast said. Madonna and Jimmy Fallon have also reportedly donated thousands.
Rappers Eminem and Wiz Khalifa are also part of the effort to bring clean water to Flint. The alt rock group Pearl Jam and its associates have pledged $300,000 in assistance, mlive.com reported.
Singer Big Sean started the fundraiser “Help Flint Kids” and rapper Meek Mill donated 60,000 bottles of water, Vibe reported in late January.
The catastrophe in one of the state’s biggest cities has taken many turns, but it began in the spring of 2014 when Michigan officials in charge of the city’s budget – which was facing a financial emergency – decided to temporarily switch Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. The move was a cost-saving measure and was put in place only until a new supply line to Lake Huron was ready. The river had a reputation for nastiness, and after the April 2014 switch, residents complained their water looked, smelled and tasted funny.
State officials initially told residents everything was fine. Former Mayor Dayne Walling even made a point to drink the water on local TV, but Virginia Tech researchers in August performed tests and found the elevated lead levels. The scope of the problem came into even better focus when local pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha announced that records showed lead levels in toddlers had doubled, and in some cases tripled, since the switch from Lake Huron.
Research shows lead exposure can affect a developing child’s IQ, resulting in learning disabilities. Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A class-action lawsuit alleges the state Department of Environmental Quality didn’t treat the water for corrosion, in accordance with federal law, and because so many service lines to Flint are made of lead, the noxious element leached into the water of the city’s homes.
The city switched back to the Lake Huron water supply in October, but the damage had already been done.
There is a lot of finger-pointing in the state about what happened, and many are criticizing Gov. Rick Snyder, who apologized in January.
That month, he said he wanted tangible measures to try to solve the crisis, such as obtaining additional testing and filters for the Flint community. Snyder also called for long-term solutions so that those affected can get health care.
CNN’s Eliott M. McLaughlin contributed to this report.