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Benton Harbor hosts fair to help residents overcome water crisis

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Posted at 11:17 PM, Nov 04, 2021

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — As resources pour into Benton Harbor in response to its water crisis, the city hosted a fair Thursday evening to connect people to what's available.

The city says that their goal is to centralize the efforts and help the people living in Benton Habor.

RELATED: 11,000+ pages of Benton Harbor water data released

Attendees stopped by each booth and collected the information they needed, from learning how to utilize water filtration systems to assistance with signing up for Medicaid.

Benton Harbor grandmother Paris Jackson wants to know the best ways to navigate her community's new normal.

"It's your health," says Jackson. "Your health is so important."

The fair brought together — for the first time — about a dozen partners from the local, state and federal level. The event was put on in response to the city's ongoing water crisis due to high levels of lead.

“If we have one over here, one over there, and it’s already challenging at this time where residents can’t use the water, can’t brush their teeth with the water," says Mayor Marcus Muhammad. "So in order to ease the burden we want to make things more accessible in tough times.”

Victoria White uses the word crazy to describe her life since the state recommended residents only use bottled water.

“I think the worst part of it is cooking," says White. "You gotta wash your food with bottled water, rinse it off, put bottled water in the pots and pans, and then you know to boil and stuff. It’s just a big, big hassle.”

White signed up to test her home's water and her grandson's blood. She worries how the water may impact him.

“I don’t know whether his issues are linked to that, but we’ve made his formula with this water seven years ago, so how long has this water really been bad?” White wonders.

And as dozens flowed through, Muhammad said he expects the state to soon announce a program that pays for a portion of people's water bills, adding another asset to Benton Harbor's fight.

“It’s multi-layered," he says, "and that’s why I hope that the way it’s done in Benton Harbor can be a model for Hamtramck and the other cities that will come after Benton Harbor.”

More fairs are expected to take place in the future.

RELATED: City of Benton Harbor ordered to fix water plant

RELATED: Benton Harbor residents: Pick up bottled water at these locations (Nov. 5–9)

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