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Flint Resident Reacts To Charges Against Michigan Officials Over Water Crisis

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

To gauge how people in Flint are reacting to this news, we now check in with Jeneyah McDonald. She's a Flint resident - a substitute teacher, a mother of two young boys, Justice and Josiah. And she joins us on a cell phone. It's good to have you back.

JENEYAH MCDONALD: Thanks, Robert.

SIEGEL: How did you learn about the charges today, and what was your reaction?

MCDONALD: Well, I was at school doing a class today, but I took a break to go back and kind of listen and hear. It's kind of bittersweet. I feel like it's about time, but there is absolutely a lot more that needs to be done.

SIEGEL: Does charging state and local officials with crimes related to the water crisis - does it help restore your trust in the government at all?

MCDONALD: Not at all, no. The only thing that will get all my trust back in the local government here, as far as city and statewide, is to see these pipes replaced. It's happening in slow motion. It's not happening in my neighborhood. But that is the only thing that I feel would make it right.

SIEGEL: I asked you about trust in the government. Of course, the other issue here is trust in the water. What are you doing now in terms of water in the household? And what would give you confidence in the water coming out of the tap?

MCDONALD: I do not use the tap water for anything we put in our mouths. I clean with it. Unfortunately, I started bathing in it. I didn't have much choice. We do not put the boys in the tap water still. We still boil bottled water for them. I do not cook with the tap water. Even with the filter that's on my faucet, I will not use that water to ingest.

SIEGEL: Well, quite apart from the replacement of pipes, if there are indeed going to be more criminal charges brought against more people, as the attorney general said today that there will be, will that, in some way, contribute to your sense of justice being done over the Flint water crisis?

MCDONALD: Absolutely. And I will feel a complete sense of justice once he files charges against our governor because, ultimately, he is the parent of Michigan. So we are his children, the residents of Michigan. And you, as a parent, have failed your children, and you need to be responsible for us. And you need to be held accountable for us. And just because I'm one of your children that lives in the bad part of your house does not mean that I'm not an important child because Flint is - they're saying poor, but we have no jobs. We have high crime. Because of that here in this city, I feel like enough is not being done fast enough, loud enough or soon enough.

SIEGEL: And just before you go, I should ask, how are your boys? How are Justice and Josiah doing?

MCDONALD: Josiah has been diagnosed with autism. We have been waiting on that diagnosis, so it's a whole other ballgame for me now. There is no maybe. My son is autistic. And I'm having to fight to get my son services that he deserves, but not the services that they just want to pacify me with. Justice, he's doing better. He's doing a lot better now that I'm not bathing him in that water. His rashes are cleaning up. So they're doing better.

SIEGEL: That's Jeneyah McDonald, a Flint teacher and mother of two. Thanks for talking with us.

MCDONALD: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.