BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA.com) — It’s not like it was imaginable the water crisis in Flint, Mich., could get any worse.
It got worse.
Residents have been told there is so much lead in their water it might not be possible to filter it out.
Samples from more than two dozen areas revealed levels higher than filters can handle.
In a story that is Only On 2, Erica Nochlin reports one local man is stepping up to help that ravaged city in a big way.
“What really hit me was that I couldn’t do a small thing, I needed to do a big thing. Because Flint was big for me.” says Tom Gores, a Beverly Hills resident.
Actually, he’s a lot more than that. Before he was an LA investor, he’s the owner of the Detroit Pistons, and a billionaire.
He grew up in Flint. What’s happening there now is deeply personal for him.
Gores told Nochlin he recently visited there and stopped by his father’s former market, where he worked as a young boy.
“We weren’t doing that well ourselves, and that gave me a tremendous sense of giving,” he says.
Gores is giving back to his hometown while it faces a severe drinking water crisis. He’s pledged to raise at least $10 million.
He said $1 million of that was sent to Flint on Friday.
“I think we need to react faster. It’s one thing to have a problem; it’s another thing not to react to the problem,” Gores said.
Mark Barnhill, a partner of Gores’ Platinum Equity, is one of the people Gores has tasked with finding more contributors. He just created a nonprofit called Flint Now to help streamline donations.
“If we don’t raise any money from anyone else, we’re committing that money, Tom has committed that money, and it’s personal to him,” Barnhill said.
Gores believes his hometown will weather this crisis.
“It’s a whole community there, people are tough; they’re strong,” he said.
In his Beverly Hills home, Gores has a framed photo of a boy he’s never met. He’s holding a sign at a Pistons game — supporting him — when the team wasn’t doing well. The sign said, “I believe in you Tom Gores.”
“I have an obligation and a commitment to deliver for him,” Gores said.
Whether for that boy or for families like his who no longer live in Flint, Gores is simply committed to doing more.
“We’ve made a decision, it’s a big decision for us, to be all in. It’s what Flint deserves,” he said.