Comcast has quietly stepped up to the plate to help those affected by the contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., providing residents with water filters and holding bottled water drives to provide clean drinking water for homes in its service territory.
The city of Flint has been under a public health emergency after it was found that improper treatment allowed large amounts of lead from city pipes to leach into the water supply. Flint had switched its water source from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River in April 2014 in an effort to save money. Critics have pointed out that complaints from residents to the state fell on deaf ears for months, with some alleging that Flint’s high poverty rate and largely minority population was a factor in the state’s inaction. On Friday Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law approving a $28 million round of emergency funding to address the problem. It was the second round of funding since the state identified the crisis in the fall, with the total now reaching $39 million.
Comcast has about 127 employees working in Flint, 58 who live in the city. The company began handing out state-provided water filters to residents through its service technicians and its Flint service center on Jan. 25. About 80 Comcast vehicles are carrying the filters, and as of Jan. 28 about 600 filters have been distributed.
The cable company also has made Public Service Announcements available explaining where residents can get resources and information; established a special On Demand section on its cable system in the area called "Flint Water" that includes a video on how to install the filter and a PSA so customers have easy access to valuable information.
Comcast also is holding its own bottled water drive for its 4,000-plus Michigan employees and company techs are delivering donations to Flint. The company also has opened up its WiFi hotspots in Flint for the next 30 days to allow emergency personnel and volunteers to use the network to communicate with each other and to track any necessary data.
In a blog posting, Comcast senior vice president for the Heartland Region Tom Collins called the efforts a “full-court press.”
“Part of what makes Comcast such a special place to work is our employees’ unwavering commitment to their communities,” Collins said in the blog post. “They exemplify this every year during our Comcast Cares Day when we all come together with our families, friends and community partners around the world to volunteer and make change happen in our local communities.
“Just as importantly, when our communities need us the most Comcasters rise to the occasion to make a difference,” he continued. “We’ll continue to look for opportunities to help out in Flint.”