Get on the (green) bus, Gus

MTA Flint Hydrogen Bus

Hydrogen Bus at the Capitol by MTA Flint

Kyle Davidson of the Great Lakes Echo has an excellent feature looking at a new, $30 million program to help Michigan’s public companies and private businesses buy low emission freight trucks, buses, tugboats and cargo handling equipment:

Beneficiaries of the program choose electric, alternative fuel or new diesel models, said Nick Assendelft, a public information officer for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. The first round of funding will provide $16 million to replace outdated freight trucks and buses with new models. At least half of that is earmarked for electric vehicles.

…Later rounds of funding include opportunities to replace Great Lakes tug and ferry boats, airport ground support equipment, port cargo handling equipment and forklifts.

…Some organizations are already transitioning their fleets to alternative fuels. Over the past 11 years the Mass Transportation Authority of Flint and Genesee County has reduced annual diesel fuel use from 1.4 million gallons to 30,000 gallons. The public transportation agency has done that by converting its fleet to run on compressed natural gas, propane and hydrogen, said Edgar Benning, the authority’s chief executive officer.

Fueling a hydrogen bus costs about twice as much as fueling a diesel bus, Benning said. In return for the extra cost, you get almost double the mileage. Along with the performance and the maintenance of the vehicles, you really pick the cost up on the other side, Benning said.

Alternative fuel vehicles make up 95% of the authority’s fleet. They provide fixed-route busing along with transportation services for seniors and people with disabilities. The authority also has about 200 cars to provide non-emergency medical transportation. 

Lots more in the Echo!

The photo comes from MTA Flint, Genessee County’s transit authority.

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Coronovirus Adds to Flint’s Water Woes

Distributing Water in Flint (2016) by J Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue

Distributing Water in Flint (2016) by J Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue

The Freep reports that in the city of Flint, Michigan, the coronavirus pandemic is adding to the daily hardship some citizens have endured for over 5 years following the Flint Water Crisis and making it even more difficult for organizations to help:

Volunteers aren’t showing up to hand out water and food for fear of catching the virus — and, some residents say, they are now having difficulty buying what they need because the supermarket shelves are bare as a result of panicked shoppers.

“The stores don’t have it,” Sandra Jones, the executive director of R.L. Jones Community Outreach Center in Flint, said of bottled water. “We have people who called and promised to volunteer, but because of the pandemic every single one of them backed out.”

Every Thursday, she said, hundreds of residents line up at the center at Greater Holy Temple Church of God in Christ. They arrive as early as 4 a.m., where the bottle water distribution starts at 10 a.m.

The residents, Jones added, come in cars with folks from two, three and four families.

“We could certainly use help, and we could use letting people know we are not yet out of this crisis,” she said. “People are agitated. They are scared.”

Indeed. If you would like to help the R.L. Jones Community Outreach Center, contact Sandra Jones at Greater Holy Temple Church of God in Christ, 6702 Dort Hwy, in Flint, (810) 787-3960.

Shoutout to Michigan-based Circle of Blue & their great “The Stream” newsletter for the heads up! Click to read their coverage of the Flint Water Crisis & support their water journalism.

June 8, 1953: Remembering the Flint-Beecher Tornado

via Absolute Michigan

Tornado Damage in Beecher

Tornado Damage in Beecher, courtesy Flint Public Library

“The noise sounded like two freight trains going over a trestle right over your head; it was an ugly roar. My wife said the noise when the house went was like a giant pencil sharpener working.”
-Tornado Survivor Robert Blue

The National Weather Service relates that the Flint-Beecher tornado was Michigan’s worst natural disaster in terms of deaths and injuries:

This was the last tornado to kill over 100 people in a single tornado event anywhere in the United States. On June 8th, 1953, 116 people lost their lives in the Flint-Beecher community, and 844 people suffered injuries. The Flint-Beecher Tornado was just one of eight tornadoes that occurred that horrible evening across the eastern portion of the Lower Peninsula. Those other seven tornadoes resulted in an additional 9 deaths, 52 injures, and damage stretching from Alpena to Erie.

The Flint-Beecher tornado was rated as an F5, the highest rating on the Fujita scale of damage. Winds were likely in excess of 200 mph as the 800 yard wide tornado moved on its 27 mile path through Genesee and Lapeer counties. Approximately 340 homes were destroyed, 107 homes had “major damage”, and 153 homes had “minor damage”. In addition farms, businesses and other buildings were destroyed and had damage. These totaled another 50 buildings destroyed and 16 with damage. The damage was estimated around $19 million (about $125 million adjusted for inflation).

So great a number were killed by the monstrous tornado that the National Guard Armory building, along with other shelters, was turned into a temporary morgue. The scene of bodies pouring into the Armory (as an intermittent light rain poured outside) was incredibly bleak and horrifying, especially for the families and friends of the victims. At least 100 people waited outside into the rainy night before they could move inside to try and identify the bodies.

Read on for more at Absolute Michigan.

See more in the Flint Public Library’s Beecher Tornado gallery and watch this video account from tornado survivors below.

More history and more from Flint on Michigan in Pictures.

Charles Stewart Mott and the Mott Foundation Building

Mott Foundation Building in Flint

The Mott Foundation Building in Flint, photo by Steve Brown

My post on Tuesday generated a little controversy because I stated who I was supporting in Michigan’s primary and also that I’d continue to share my personal opinions here on Michigan in Pictures. Most readers who commented agreed, including Jim Schaefer who shared the most powerful comment I’ve ever read on my work:

Dear Farlane…I’m so glad you posted item #4 today along with the great photo. I had to move to Sheboygan, WI in 2014 for health reasons, leaving behind 45-yrs of life in Flint, MI. I’ve been saving your photos and their accompanying stories on a daily basis for several years now in their own special folder on my laptop. They are my daily reminder about all of the good things about Michigan that some Michigan residents seem to take for granted.

Unfortunately, some of these same people have conveniently forgotten about your 1st Amendment rights to editorialize on your own website. Shame on them! I am also a 72-yr old Army veteran who served a 13-month tour in a combat zone in Korea in 1966. That’s why I’m so glad that you reminded people to vote today. I was drafted against my will back in 1966 but I served my country and did my job over there and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let anyone take away my right to vote. So you keep right on posting all of those great photos along with the Michigan history behind them.

May God bless you always…Jim Schaefer

God bless you too Jim, and here’s something for your desktop folder from Flint! The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation shares this about their founder:

Charles Stewart Mott
Charles Stewart Mott

Charles Stewart Mott established the C.S. Mott Foundation in 1926, in response to his deep concern about the welfare of Flint, Mich., as well as his abiding affection for his adopted community.

An automotive pioneer, Mr. Mott was an original partner in the creation of the General Motors Corporation, founded in Flint in 1908. As one of the city’s leading industrialists, Mr. Mott was elected mayor, serving three terms (1912–13, 1918) during periods of overwhelming and turbulent growth in the city. As mayor he was responsible for instituting fair property assessments, orderly accounting audits, health and safety ordinances, building codes and a house numbering system.

Read more about Mott in Autos not Apples. Here’s a few facts about the 16-story Art Deco building that bears his name and houses the Mott Foundation:

  • Flint’s first skyscraper with a total height of 226 feet to the top of the passenger elevator penthouse.
  • Designed by Smith, Hunchman & Grylls (SmithGroup) the oldest practicing architectural firm in the US.
  • Construction took one year to complete at a cost of approximately $2,000,000.
  • Original design included seven retail stores on the first floor. There were also originally men’s rooms on every floor, but women’s restrooms only on every other floor.
  • The Freight elevator is still operated with the vintage 1930 controls.
  • Building name was changed to the Mott Foundation Building on January 1, 1945.

View Steve’s photo big as a building and see more in his Flint, Michigan slideshow.

More Flint and more architecture on Michigan in Pictures. Also check out this guide to the architecture of Flint for more of the city’s architectural heritage.