As the Flint water crisis enters its third month, one Texas Army National Guard soldier decided to step up and directly help the people most affected with a road trip to Michigan.
More than two months ago, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency for Flint, Michigan, in response to the ongoing water crisis that has exposed up to 12,000 children to contaminated drinking water. Since then, private donations have poured in to support the community suffering from long-term lead poisoning. For Maj. George Hurd, a Texas guardsman and combat veteran, sitting idly was not an option.
"Part of it comes from my experience overseas in Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan, where we gave out bottled water to children all across that region," Hurd said. "When I sat back and became more aware of what was going on in Flint and seeing the disaster that's going on up there, I just thought there wasn't enough attention. It affected me to the core and instead of just complaining about it, I decided to do something about it."
Hurd, who serves as the deputy operations officer for the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Round Rock, Texas, organized a support effort wherein he and his daughter loaded up the family truck and drove more than 1,200 miles from their Mansfield home to Flint to deliver water and other supplies to the children in need.
"We're going to go door to door," Hurd said. "We're going to link up with local churches and the police department, and hit the areas that are most afflicted and haven't received as much water as they've hoped or have been asking for."
The trip for the father-daughter team started the morning of March 12, and lasted until their return home March 16. In Flint, they delivered water, toiletry supplies, and other necessities directly to families affected by the crisis.
"We wanted to do that human interaction thing and actually just meet with people and give them some water and find out what else they need," Hurd said. "We're hoping to create some awareness. We're calling our mission the Flint Water Brigade, a spinoff from the old days when firemen and the community would come together with buckets of water to help put out fire."
Hurd's daughter Olivia, a high school sophomore, chose to spend her spring break on this trip with her father in support of the Flint Water Brigade.
"I'm so blessed to have this opportunity to help people," Olivia said. "I just want to make a difference one person at a time."
In total, the team delivered two truckloads of water, a truckload of baby wipes, and helped a local single mother purchase a vehicle.
"We're hoping it inspires other people to help out," Hurd said.