Cher Is Sending Over 180,000 Bottles of Clean Water to Flint During Lead Poisoning Crisis: 'This Is a Tragedy of Staggering Proportion'
01/17/2016 AT 01:50 PM EST
The pop icon, who is partnering on this project with Icelandic Global, announced the donation Saturday in a press release.
The water will arrive at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan on Wednesday, according to the release, and the bank "will immediately begin the distribution process to those who need it most for drinking, cooking and washing."
"The water will go directly to community centers, food banks and fire houses focusing in on low income housing areas," according to the release.
"This is a tragedy of staggering proportion and shocking that it's happening in the middle of our country," Cher said in the release, adding, "I cannot wait for the water to get there to help these people who have been poisoned."
On Saturday, President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency in Flint, sending $5 million in federal aid in support of a solution to the crisis, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The Michigan state government had also asked Obama to declare a disaster, though the administration declined, as federal law does not allow man-made catastrophes to be considered "disasters," according to the Free Press.
Experts say the tap water in Flint became contaminated after the city, in a cost-cutting move, temporarily switched its water source to the Flint River, according to CNN.
A far more corrosive source, which was not treated properly as it flowed through the city's service lines, the Flint River leached lead from the pipes that poured it into people's homes, according to CNN.
A number of children in the city have already suffered lead poisoning, whose effects from exposure are irreversible.
"I pushed [my teenage sons] to drink water – 'Put down that juice, go get some water,' " Flint mom Melissa Mays told the Free Press in October. "Lead is in our blood."
Reporting by PATRICK GOMEZ