GOODYEAR, AZ — The Washington family spent over a decade in Flint, Mich. building a life, raising six kids. Now, after the Flint Water Crisis, they're starting over from scratch in Goodyear, Arizona.
The water crisis in Flint was first recognized in 2014. Lawrence Washington Jr. first realized something was wrong while taking a shower.
"I looked down and I noticed the water was dark brown", he says. Lawrence and his wife LaToya describe the crisis as devastating and terrifying.
"You would get an alert to tell you to boil the water because of the bacteria. Then, you would get another alert to not boil your water because it would make the lead levels higher," added LaToya.
Instead of tap water, the family relied on bottled water. Lawrence would pick up ten cases of water every week to clean, cook, bathe or do anything that required water.
Plus, the family took trips every Wednesday to a YMCA outside of Flint to shower.
Lawrence says his kids talk about those weekly trips like it was a "big field trip". The kids say they miss it and those trips were fun.
But, the aftermath of the crisis on the family's health was far from fun. Even after using bottled water exclusively for nearly two years, all six kids tested positive for lead.
The youngest Washington, who was one-year-old at the time, had a level of 4.8. LaToya says a level of 5.0 would've required special treatment.
"I did everything possible for him not to have this so how is this so", she thought.
Now, after living in Arizona for nearly three years, there's no lead in the kids' systems but memories of Flint are hard to shake.
A magnet describing foods that prevent lead absorption still hangs on the fridge. The family only drinks bottled water.
Most pressing on Lawrence and LaToya Washington are their kids' health. They say they're on high-alert for any side effects of lead poisoning but trust in their faith to get them through.
If you're interested in supporting the Washington family, check out their GoFundMe page.