The Flint, Michigan, water crisis has greatly impacted residents in a way most Americans could never imagine, but Gerry Woodberry’s story comes with a harrowing visual that’s making headlines nationwide. According to MLive, Woodberry, a former manufacturing company supervisor, is now disabled because he suffers from a skin condition called lichen plantus, a debilitating condition, categorized as an autoimmune inflammatory condition of the skin and mucous members.
These skin rashes can develop in one or more areas of the body. Unfortunately, there is very little knowledge of this chronic recurrent rash, and medical specialists have yet to determine a direct cause. However, Gerry Woodberry has noted a distinctive decline in his condition since the Flint water crisis became uncontrollable.
During an interview with the publication, Woodberry explained the condition is a result of an imbalance with his T-cells.
“Basically, my body attacks itself,” he said. “When it thinks I’m injured, it overcompensates. It’s like my T cells are attacking each other.”
Prior to the Flint water crisis, bathing would soothe the chronic pain he suffers from. Now, any contact with the water leads to torture.
“The water has aggravated it,” said Woodberry. “Whenever I get out of the shower, it’s like I’m completely dry, completely white. My condition has gotten worse.” He pulled his sock off to expose the painful welts and lesions all over his right leg. After noticing the distinct change in the water, Woodberry began cutting the number of showers he’d take each day to avoid coming in contact with the water and irritating his skin.
After making complaints, Gerry Woodberry received a response from Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality. The controversial Flint water crisis has led to even more questions for local citizens, like Woodberry, in nearby cities. Apparently, Woodbery’s apartment complex, Clover Tree Apartments, is located approximately one mile outside of Flint city limits.
A spokeswoman with the Department of Environmental Quality claims Flint’s water crisis hasn’t impacted Woodberry’s complex because his water supply comes from a neighboring town. But, Woodberry argues that he may have been effected when he bathed at his mother and sister’s homes within the Flint, Michigan, city limits. But, regardless of what the department has said, Woodberry is still apprehensive about their claims due to the series of events that led to the Flint water crisis. For these reasons, he’s still unsure he can trust the government.
“I can’t trust them because to me they knew what was going on,” said Gerry Woodberry. “A little shortcut to save them money, while you’re destroying people’s lives… I can’t regain my trust. I really can’t. I feel like this situation with me trying to get help, they don’t really care, they just don’t care. It’s not them that’s affected, so why should they care. That’s how I feel.”
Woodberry adamantly insists his condition has worsened since the decline of Flint’s water quality.
“Before this water changed, when I would take my showers, it would soothe my skin,” he said. “When I get out now, it’s the total opposite. It’s like I’m very irritated, like I’m very dry. It’s constantly hurting. Some days I can’t even put my socks on or my shoes.”
Although Woodberry’s claims have yet to be confirmed, he’s not the only person that’s suffered from some form of skin condition as a result of the lead-contaminated water. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is currently working to find the link between these skin conditions and the tainted water in Flint. For that alone, Gerry Woodberry is grateful.
“I felt grateful, appreciated,” he said. “Somebody was finally listening to my concerns. It touched my heart.”
[Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images]