Benton Harbor distributing bottles of water to residents during lead crisis

BENTON HARBOR, Mi. -- The city of Benton harbor is being urged to avoid drinking or using water from their taps- even if they have a lead filtration device. 

Instead, they are recommending to drink bottled water, and the city is holding drive-throughs to give out cases to families in need. 

The current levels of lead were found to exceed the Action Level back in September. 

"It should've been resolved," said Benton Harbor resident Renee Young. "I don't understand how it even got this bad."

Filters were handed out to area residents, but Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services are now advising them to use only bottled water for drinking, cooking and brushing their teeth. 

15,000 cases have been donated by the state, and more are on the way. Hundreds of cars stretched around the block, lining up to have their trunks filled. 

Keyma Shepard, a volunteer loading water onto cars, said "We've been out here since four o'clock. We've been giving out nine to twelve cases of water to families so they'll be able to have good, clean cooking water and drinking water."

Shepard would cheer encouragement to the people getting water: "Rise up, Benton Harbor!"

The drive-through at the Southwest Michigan Community Action Center on Miller Street lasted until about 6:00p, but there will be more drive-through centers set up to meet the need in the community- the next one being held on October 8 at God's Household of Faith on Pipestone Street from 2:00p to 6:00p.

“Tomorrow, the next day – whenever it’ll be available, I shall be stocking up on it,” said Young.

“It makes me feel, like, I’m being a blessing to so many people I know, and so many people that I never saw before," said Shepard. "But it just makes my heart feel good to know that it’s clean water servicing around our city. I don’t know how soon it’s gonna be fixed, but with God’s help, we’re all gonna be alright.”

Residents have been assured water is safe to use for bathing, washing hands and cleaning laundry.

For those who are unable to make it out to a distribution site, the city is working on making deliveries to those residents. Those who are in need of that service should call (800) 815-5485.

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