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Steve Harvey’s TV show focuses on Flint water crisis

Charles E Ramirez
The Detroit News

The Flint water crisis, which has gained international attention, was the focus of the “Steve Harvey Show” on Monday.

Kicking off the national show, Harvey said Flint “has become a tragic snapshot of an American city in crisis.”

“Contaminated water, sick children, careless government,” he said, listing the problems associated with the discovery of lead contamination in the water since April 2014, when the city began drawing its drinking water from the Flint River.”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and local politicians were featured on the show. Harvey also showed recorded interviews with Flint residents, doctors and nurses.

In one recorded interview, Harvey asked Clinton what she learned about Flint during a recent visit.

“I was just appalled that this had been noticed by people in the community, taking bottles of the water to the authorities ... and they were ignored and they were stonewalled,” Clinton said. “This all happened because the governor wanted to save money and did it at the expense of the health and the lives of the people in this community.”

Concerns over the taste of the water, smells and coloring gave way to more serious worries late last summer when rising levels of lead were found in children’s blood.

The audience on Harvey’s show featured Flint residents who were bused to Chicago for the episode.

One woman identified as Kianna broke into tears when she told Harvey she’s worried her 6-year-old daughter may have brain damage from Flint’s lead-contaminated water.

“I didn’t pay attention to the warning signs when the shower curtain was turning orange and I let her drink the water, and somewhere along the line there might be some problems,” she sobbed. “I feel so guilty.”

Harvey tried to comfort her. “You can’t put this on you,” he told her. “You didn’t bring this on your child. This is a political, money-motivated issue.”

Later, Weaver joined the program via satellite. Harvey asked about the plan to fix the problem and how much it would cost.

She said the city has a $55 million budget to replace pipes in the homes of children, people with compromised immune systems and senior citizens.

Weaver said it will cost about $1 billion to $1.5 billion to replace all the pipes in the city, “but that’s only the infrastructure costs; it’s not the human costs — the children who’ve been affected by this.”

Harvey concluded the show by displaying a photo of three Flint children carrying a case of bottled water.

“This ain’t a Third World country,” he said.. “This right here, man, is one of the biggest catastrophes in this country in modern-day times.”

cramirez@detroitnews.com

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