April 2018 - Photos of the Month

On Friday, April 6, the state ended their free bottled water service to the City of Flint due to results of Flint’s water quality testing below action levels of the federal Lead and Copper Rule. The remaining four water distribution centers known as PODS will operate until current supply of state-funded bottles run out. 

When this news hit the city and its residents it felt apocalyptic, especially because many of Flint’s residents still rely heavily on bottled water for drinking, cooking and bathing. 

Cars idled in long lines down several blocks near the remaining POD sites in hopes to receive the remaining cases of bottled water. 

Crews worked endlessly loading cases into the backs of cars. Eight cases per car. 

It was a madhouse. This is the first time I’ve been involved in Flint’s water crisis that wasn’t in a courtroom. It’s the first time I really got to speak with residents about how the crisis continues to affect them four years later. 

Water distribution employee Albrey Kirkland places water cases into the back of a pickup at a water distribution center on North Franklin Avenue on Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Flint. The state will no longer supply the City of Flint bottled water due to results of Flint’s water quality testing below action levels of the federal Lead and Copper Rule. The remaining four water distribution centers will operate until current supply of state-funded bottles run out. Access and functional need deliveries will also close once water supply is out.

Cars wait in line for bottled water on Flushing Roads near a water distribution center on Pierson Road on Monday, April 9, 2018 in Flint. on Monday, April 9, 2018 in Flint. Two additional deliveries of bottled water are headed to Flint, extending the supply of bottled water for a few more days. Nineteen semitrailer loads are the last scheduled deliveries that have been purchased by the state and will be divided between distribution sites and home deliveries said Cathy Blankenship, vice president of development and communication for the Food Bank.

Lonnie Nelson gives his address to an employee at a water distribution center on North Franklin Avenue on Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Flint. Nelson has lived 10 years in Flint. He visits the distribution centers four times a week to bring water home to his wife and four daughters. They use the water for cooking, drinking, rinsing vegetables and brushing their teeth. “I’m scared to drink the water,” Nelson said. “It will kill us drinking out of that faucet.” The state will no longer supply the City of Flint bottled water due to results of Flint’s water quality testing below action levels of the federal Lead and Copper Rule.

Christine Schaeffer sits in her car with her son Damarious, 10, at a water distribution center on North Franklin Avenue on Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Flint. Schaeffer visits the distribution center twice a week. She uses the water to cook, drink, clean dishes and rinse vegetables. She also urges her kids to wash their face and brush their teeth with the bottled water. To Schaeffer the idea of losing the distribution centers would be horrible. “I don’t trust it,” Schaeffer said about the water. “This damaged me for life.” She adds that she will never drink tap water from any city she lives in again. The state will no longer supply the City of Flint bottled water due to results of Flint’s water quality testing below action levels of the federal Lead and Copper Rule.

Damarious Schaeffer, 10, looks out the window of his mother’s car at a water distribution center on North Franklin Avenue on Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Flint. Schaeffer uses bottled water to wash his face and brush his teeth.

Distribution supervisor Alice Thomas throws a case of water to Quaron Tylon at a distribution site on Dort Highway on Monday, April 9, 2018 in Flint. Two additional deliveries of bottled water are headed to Flint, extending the supply of bottled water for a few more days. Nineteen semitrailer loads are the last scheduled deliveries that have been purchased by the state and will be divided between distribution sites and home deliveries said Cathy Blankenship, vice president of development and communication for the Food Bank.

Flint resident Jamal Johnson, 38, sits in his car after picking up eight cases of water at a water distribution center on North Franklin Avenue on Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Flint. In 2016, Johnson began to develop a skin condition which he attributes to Flint water. His doctor prescribed him medication to treat his skin. Johnson now uses bottled water to wash his face. “They need to hurry up and fix this,” Johnson said. The state will no longer supply the City of Flint bottled water due to results of Flint’s water quality testing below action levels of the federal Lead and Copper Rule.

Water distribution workers throw water into the back of a car at a water distribution center on West Court Street on Monday, April 9, 2018 in Flint. on Monday, April 9, 2018 in Flint. Two additional deliveries of bottled water are headed to Flint, extending the supply of bottled water for a few more days after the state announced it would discontinue the free bottled water service on April 6. Nineteen semitrailer loads are the last scheduled deliveries that have been purchased by the state and will be divided between distribution sites and home deliveries said Cathy Blankenship, vice president of development and communication for the Food Bank. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Flint resident Arianna Urbina, 10, watches as water is placed in her mother’s van while at a distribution site on North Franklin Avenue on Monday, April 9, 2018 in Flint. Two additional deliveries of bottled water are headed to Flint, extending the supply of bottled water for a few more days. Nineteen semitrailer loads are the last scheduled deliveries that have been purchased by the state and will be divided between distribution sites and home deliveries said Cathy Blankenship, vice president of development and communication for the Food Bank. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Water cases sit in a pile at a water distribution center on North Franklin Avenue on Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn

on Monday, April 9, 2018 in Flint. Two additional deliveries of bottled water are headed to Flint, extending the supply of bottled water for a few more days. Nineteen semitrailer loads are the last scheduled deliveries that have been purchased by the state and will be divided between distribution sites and home deliveries said Cathy Blankenship, vice president of development and communication for the Food Bank. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Here’s are more of my favorite photos from the month.


A snowstorm hitting Northern Michigan is going to continue into early afternoon on Wednesday, April 4, 2018 in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Flint resident James Shepherd, 27, holds his daughter Julianah, 5, during the Flint water crisis four-year anniversary protest at City Hall on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 in Flint. “It’s more people being affected by it and less action,” Shepherd said. “We need the bottled water.” Shepherd uses roughly 30 cases a week to cook and bathe his two children. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Sophia Fletcher, 5, of Flint, stands next to a sign showing a picture of her grandmother Jill Robison’s kitchen faucet during the Flint water crisis four-year anniversary protest at City Hall on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Portrait of Brooklyn Smith, 25, during a 420 event in Denver.

Portrait of Brooklyn Smith, 25, during a 420 event in Denver.

Portrait of Claudia Arenivar, 21, during a 420 event in Denver.

Flint resident Kerensz Harris, 44, grasps the hands with others while listening to a song performed during a protest recognizing the fourth anniversary of the Flint Water Crisis at City Hall on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 in Flint. “Four years later we still have no resolve,” Harris said. “It has got to be people over profit.” Harris continues to use bottled water in home. She uses the bottled water to cook, wash her and her daughter’s face as well as brush their teeth. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

April snowfall in Flint.

Jacob Hoffman, 6, waits to roll pie crust during the annual Bake Fresh Friday at Carriage Town Ministries on Friday, April 6, 2018 in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Portrait of Flint fisherman James Coley

City outreach development liaison Aonie Gilcreast listens as Flint Mayor Karen Weaver discusses her meeting with Gov. Rick Snyder about his decision to discontinue the distribution of bottled water during a press conference at Flint City Hall on Monday, April 16, 2018 in Flint. The meeting with Snyder took place Monday morning leaving Weaver frustrated with his refusal to reopen the water distribution sites until all the lead and galvanized water service lines are replaced. “When we talked about the PODS the governor said that we need to get over it,” Weaver said. “This is a moral issue, this is an ethical issue, and the people deserve to be comfortable and have that kind of peace of mind and continue with bottled and filtered while we get through this process.” She adds if she has to take the state to court that’s what she will do. “We will sue them.” Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Police investigate the scene of a homicide on the streets of West Moore and Donnelly on Thursday, April 26, 2018 in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Local activist Arthur Woodson rests his head during the ongoing preliminary examination of Dr. Eden Wells on Monday, April 23, 2018 at in Judge William Crawford courtroom in Genesee County District Court in Flint. Wells faces charges of obstructing justice and lying to a peace officer in connection with her handling of the Flint water crisis.

Portrait of Flint resident Michelle Rushing


March 2018- Photos of the Month

The biggest story I tackled in this month was about an apartment complex that had been condemned and abandoned by its owners and property management in Flint. Several residents went without heat, electricity or water for weeks at a time. Trash could be seen piled up next to the complex. It had stopped being collected by the city since summer of last year. For most of the month I visited the complex with Flint Journal reporter and best friend Zahra Ahmad. Our goal was to get to know the remaining residents and document the conditions in which they lived. 

From there we met a family, The Hendersons, who still lived there. They decided to leave when violence, burglary and drug use began to take over the complex. They moved into the Shelter of Flint until they could find an affordable home in a safe area, something hard to come by in Flint. This is an unfortunate story of something that is common and continues to happen in Flint that leaves many individuals and families homeless. Read full story here.

Mike Ceaser, 54, sits in his living room at Mary Ann Apartments on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, in Flint. He has been living in the apartment for nearly 9 months. “When I first moved in here there was cockroaches real bad, the refrigerator was dirty and the carpet was dirty,” Ceaser said. “They were supposed to have everything cleaned when I moved in here and when I got here it wasn’t.” Ceaser said when people began squatting in the vacant apartments is when things became really bad. Ceaser has had a gun pulled on him twice since living at the complex. “It makes a person depressed and adds to anxiety,” Ceaser said. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Jami Santee stands for a photo as she prepares to move out of her apartment at Mary Ann Apartments on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, in Flint. She has been living in the apartment for nearly a year and has lived under the same conditions as many other residents. She has had rodents and cockroaches infest her place due to trash piling up outside the complex. Santee and her mother both live at the complex. Her mother, who is blind and diabetic, has suffered the same conditions as well. “I’m a diabetic with only 54 percent of my kidneys working,” Santee said. “This is too much. We don’t need all this. I don’t need all this. We pay our rent and stay to ourselves. We need all the help we can get.” Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Jackie Parks, 43, sits on her bed in her room at Mary Ann Apartments on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 in Flint. Parks has been living at the complex for a year and has been taking care of her father who is sick with cancer. Her apartment has been broken into twice and her father has grown increasingly ill due to their living environment. “It’s terrible,” Parks said. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Amanda Henderson, 29, and her husband Danni, 56, sit in their room at the Shelter of Flint on Monday, March 19, 2018, in Flint. The Henderson’s became displaced from their home when the Mary Ann Apartments, located on West Court Street, were condemned on Feb. 26. They had lived there since June 2017 and on several occasions went without heat, water and electricity. She realized quickly there was a lack in management. Henderson has a two-year-old son named Nathanael Broughton. “I couldn’t take him outside without seeing hypodermic needles,” she said. “They put us in that apartment with terrible conditions knowing I had a two-year-old son. I almost had my son taken from me because the water was shut off for so long.” The family moved to the shelter in the beginning of March. They have struggled to find a place to live and are on a four-month waiting list with Section 8 Housing. “I never thought being homeless would happen to me,” Henderson said. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Furniture, clothes and other keepsakes belonging to the Henderson family lies scattered after their apartment was ransacked the night before at the Mary Ann Apartments on West Court Street on Friday, March 16, 2018, in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Nathanael Broughton peers out of his parent’s home at the Mary Ann Apartments on West Court Street on Friday, March 16, 2018, in Flint. Their apartment was broken into the night before and ransacked. The family returned to gather their belongings, including Broughton’s Thomas the Tank Engine toy. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Amanda Henderson carries her two-year-old son, Nathanael Broughton, to their room at Shelter of Flint on Monday, March 19, 2018, in Flint. “I’m worried about my son,” Henderson said. She adds Nathanael has had a few meltdowns since relocating to the shelter. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Amanda Henderson walks out of the Shelter of Flint with her husband, Danni, and son, Nathanael Broughton, 2, on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Flint. The family has been living in the shelter for a week since leaving Maryann Apartments. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Danni Henderson, 56, buckles his seat belt before running errands with his wife, Amanda, and son, Nathanael Broughton, on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Flint. Henderson says he was in the United States Army for 15 years. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Amanda Henderson’s two-year-old song Nathanael Broughton begins to cry while looking out of his home at the Mary Ann Apartments on West Court Street on Friday, March 16, 2018, in Flint. The night before the apartment was broken into and ransacked. The family has been staying at the Shelter of Flint until they can relocate into a new home. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

The Hendersons eat breakfast together at the Shelter of Flint on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Nathanael Broughton, 2, giggles as his parents Amanda and Danni Henderson kiss his forehead at Shelter of Flint on Monday, March 19, 2018, in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Amanda Henderson, 29, looks out the window while in the backseat with her son, Nathanael Broughton, 2, on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Flint. Since relocating to the shelter, Henderson said the process of moving has been difficult. “All of the apartments so far have turned our applications down because Dan is unemployed right now,” Henderson said. “It’s just been hard on me, it’s been stressful.” Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Amanda Henderson shares a moment with her son, Nathanael Broughton, 2, in the bathroom at First Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Nathanael Broughton, 2, stares out the window of a tunnel a part of McDonald’s indoor playground on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Amanda Henderson and her husband Danni swing their son Nathanael Broughton, 2, outside of Genesee County Circuit Court on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Flint. The family spent their day trying to get Broughton’s birth certificate and Social Security card. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Amanda Henderson show her son Nathanael Broughton, 2, a picture of her grandparents in their room at Shelter of Flint on Monday, March 19, 2018, in Flint. When their apartment was ransacked, the photos of her grandparents were thrown on the floor. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Nathanael Broughton, 2, squeezes water from a towel onto his head during a bath at Shelter of Flint on Monday, March 19, 2018, in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Amanda Henderson tucks her son Nathanael Broughton into bed in their room at Shelter of Flint on Monday, March 19, 2018, in Flint. The family lives in a room with two bunk beds that Amanda and her husband rotate each night to sleep alongside Nathanael. The belongings on the storage rack are what they managed to bring when they left Mary Ann Apartment complex. It’s all they have until they can afford to buy new clothes, furniture and other objects to replace the ones destroyed when their apartment was broken into. This is the first time Henderson has been homeless. Her father called her crying because he didn’t have room for her at his home. “There’s just no room for us at his place or my step mom’s place,” Henderson said. “There’s no room for us anywhere.” Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Here are some other favorites from March!

Two firefighters talk outside of a structure fire on Poplar Street and Kearsley Boulevard on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Bridgeport’s senior cheerleader Nyah White, 18, stands for a photo during the Class B regional championship game on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 in Goodrich. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Army Airborne veteran, Burgess Loar, 89, holds his Purple Heart Medal he received during an event celebrating his service in the military at Ovid Healthcare Center on Monday, March 26, 2018 in Ovid. Along with the Purple Heart, Burgess was awarded six additional medals including the Cold War Victory Commemorative medal and ribbon. Burgess was in the United States Army for six years. He started as a dental technician and then trained to jump out of airplanes. “It was amazing,” Loar said. “I wanted to be one of the best of the best.” He adds that he is most proud of becoming an airborne solider in his life. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

From left, Grand Blanc’s senior guard Lonnell Martin and senior guard Jackarus Smith become emotional after losing to Carman-Ainsworth 68-66 during the District 9 Class A Championship game at Carman-Ainsworth High School on Friday, March 9, 2018 in Flint Township. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Over 200 students participated in a national walkout to remember the 17 Parkland School shooting victims at Lapeer High School on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 in Lapeer. “I was proud of the amount of people that came out,” said Lapeer senior Bailey Lewis, 17. “I think we had an astounding amount of people participate I was more proud of the message we were spreading.” Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Gary Browne, center, picks a flower from his father’s casket during the burial service of Richard “Dick” LaVon Browne at Riverside Cemetery on Monday, March 5, 2018 in Swan Creek Township. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Fresh snow blankets the ground at Max Brandon Park off Dupont Street on Friday, March 2, 2018 in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Bridgeport fans Kellee Garrett and Freddie Marshall react to a call made by the referee during the Class B regional championship game on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 in Goodrich. Garrett is the mother to players Marcela and Charles while Marshall is grandmother to the players. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Bridgeport’s senior Charles Garrett shoots the ball during the Class B regional championship game on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 in Goodrich. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Carman-Ainsworth’s senior guard Ja’Kavien Lewis wipes tears from his eye with his jersey as he is overcome with emotion during the final seconds of the Class A quarterfinal game against Clarkston at Grand Blanc High School on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 in Grand Blanc. Clarkston defeated Carman-Ainsworth 52-31 and will move on to the state semifinal at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Friday. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

From left, Carman-Ainsworth’s senior guard Ja’Kavien Lewis and senior guard Jamarreyon Houston sing during warmup before the Class A quarterfinal at Grand Blanc High School on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 in Grand Blanc. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Carman-Ainsworth’s junior center Mike Fletcher pulls his warmup jersey over his head before the Class A quarterfinal at Grand Blanc High School on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 in Grand Blanc. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Clarkston’s senior forward Chat Wasilk fights to shoot the ball during the Class A quarterfinal at Grand Blanc High School on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 in Grand Blanc. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

during practice at Carman-Ainsworth High School on Thursday, March 15, 2018 in Flint Township. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

From left, Carman-Ainsworth’s players Michael Fletcher, Chris Ballard listen to head coach Jay Witham during halftime at Davison High School on Monday, March 12, 2018 in Davison. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Carman-Ainsworth’s senior forward Chris Ballard rebounds the ball during the Class A district tournament at Carman-Ainsworth High School on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 in Flint Township. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Carman-Ainsworth players celebrate after defeating Grand Blanc during the District 9 Class A Championship game at Carman-Ainsworth High School on Friday, March 9, 2018 in Flint Township. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Carman-Ainsworth defeat Grand Blanc 68-66 in overtime in the Class A district championship game at Carman-Ainsworth High School on Friday, March 9, 2018 in Flint Township. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com


February 2018-Photos of the Month

Second day into February started with a breaking news story I had never covered before. My coworker Zahra and I went to a triple homicide early Saturday morning. It had to be the coldest night of that month. It was about one in the morning. It was so quiet in the neighborhood. I took as many photos as I could. I took photos of officers and detectives working the scene as well as areas where light caught my eye. We decided to wait it out until one of the officers could confirm what had happened. We knew it wasn’t going to be a good outcome regardless. 

Then the family showed up. And I’m not talking about a few individuals, there were cars full of people wanting answers. We all waited for several hours. It wasn’t until a man and woman crossed police tape toward the house that everyone got out of their cars too. So did we. 

The neighborhood wasn’t quiet anymore. 

What took place shortly after I will never forget. It was an eye-opening moment for me as a photojournalist. To get to the point, I froze. 

I froze when the detective told the family that three of their loved ones had been shot dead. Immediately a group of women dropped to the ground screaming. One woman threw a trash can near my direction as I fumbled to take the shot. It was chaos. I didn’t know what to do or when to cross the line. Part of me didn’t want to photograph their pain. The other part of me needed to do my job. I was torn. It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do here so far. 

Once Zahra and I got the information we needed we went to a 24-hour diner. We were quiet for the majority of the time. I ordered blueberry pancakes and bacon. She ordered a cheeseburger. 

It was a long night. 

We had to cover polar plunge in a few hours. Welcome to the life of journalists. 

I don’t think covering breaking news where the victim’s family is involved will ever get easier. I think it’s important to remember to go with your gut and to always move and photograph in a way that shows respect and empathy while getting the images you need to do your job. Depending on the situation, I don’t think it’s ever worth getting the shot at the expense of re-traumatizing a person in the worst moment in their life. Obviously I have a lot to learn yet on this topic. 

Here are my favorite photos from the month. 

Special education teacher at Brendel Bulldogs Phil Pickard belly-flops into Lake Fenton on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, during the Michigan Law Enforcement Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics at the Fenton Moose Lodge in Fenton. The event raised $81,000 for the Special Olympics with her 300 volunteers jumping into the frozen lake.

From left, dressed in handmade mermaid costumes, Kelsey Newcomb, Jodi Canfield, Elissa Ladzinski and Jeannie Anthony stand for a photo on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, during the Michigan Law Enforcement Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics at the Fenton Moose Lodge in Fenton. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

From left, dressed as vikings, Ashton Stewart, Leslie Stewarts, Marty Gordon and Sara Hunter pose for a selfie on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, during the Michigan Law Enforcement Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics at the Fenton Moose Lodge in Fenton. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Over 300 people take the plunge in Lake Fenton on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, during the Michigan Law Enforcement Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics at the Fenton Moose Lodge in Fenton. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

This month I really pushed myself to improve my portraiture, something I really enjoy and have made it a point to get better at while I’m here in Flint. One assignment in particular set it off for me as a turning point in how I look for light and work my subject to make the best portrait possible. Corrections officer Elwanda Ray was the perfect person to help boost my confidence during the portrait session. She was so patient and just all around a wonderful person to get to know while I was photographing her. 


Corrections officer Elwanda Ray, 46, of Flint stands for portrait at Thumb Correctional Facility on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Lapeer. Ray has been named the 2018 Corrections Officer of the Year. She spends her work days interacting with the inmates encouraging them to be better men. “I motivate them to be better,” Ray said. “Flowers do grow in a dark place.” Instead of playing cards or watching tv, Ray encourages the men to read and better their education while in prison. She also makes a point to remember birthdays. Bringing positivity to the men is what she believes helps them when they get out. “I’m the real sunshine,” Ray said. “At the end of my life I want to be remembered as someone who made a difference.” Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Corrections officer Elwanda Ray smiles for a portrait at Thumb Correctional Facility on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Lapeer. Before becoming involved in corrections, Ray wanted to be a singer, then an x-ray technician which turned into an interest for social work and finally criminal justice to be a correction officer. “I love my job,” Ray said. When she isn’t working, Ray volunteers in the community. She is active with the youth as well as in nursing homes. “I take elderly people in the neighborhood on field trips to the movies or shopping,” Ray said. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Corrections officer Elwanda Ray smiles as she reflects on how her and her husband met in the 90s while at Thumb Correctional Facility on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Lapeer. Ray is a mother of two, god mother to seven and has a grandson. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Corrections officer Elwanda Ray stands for a portrait at Thumb Correctional Facility on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Lapeer. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

And then the flooding happened. The first image is so far my favorite photo I have made thus far at the Flint Journal. 


Flint resident Brayden Benado, 5, looks out the window of his parent’s car on Robert T. Longway Boulevard at North Center Road on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 in Flint. Earlier Benado was in a vehicle that became stuck when it was driven into high flood waters. “I was scared,” Benado said. “When I grow up I’m going to get a truck.”

High floor waters caused several motorists to become stuck on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Jeremy Beagle of Burton City Towing watches the cable as he tows in a vehicle that was stuck on Robert T. Longway Boulevard at North Center Road on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 in Flint. This was the third vehicle Beagle towed out of the waters. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

High floor waters caused several motorists to become stuck on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Houses reflect in flood water on Mountain Avenue on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018 in Shiawassee County. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Ketara Sealey, 17, takes a photo of the school bus’s tire on streets of Moore and Sterling on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 in Flint. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

And now the rest of the month. 

Travis Kindt Jr., 2, begins to cry as barber shop owner Chris Ascencio and Kindts’ mother Summer Freeman try to settle him during his first ever haircut at Ascencio’s Barber Shop on Richfield Road on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2018 in Flint. The barber shop has been doing first-time haircuts since it opened in 1993. Ascencio has seen it all. He once had a kid turn around to try and claw him while he was trimming the boy’s hair. Kindt put up a similar fight until his mom came to side. “On the scale from one to ten he was a high nine,” Ascencio said. Once Kindt’s hair was buzzed and trimmed, he received a certificate with his name on it stating he had received his first ever haircut. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Kelsey Evans, 21, of Burton devours a jam-filled flavored Paczki during the ninth annual Paczki eating competition at VG’s Grocery Store in Davison on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Davison. Evans was the winner of this year’s event. This is the second time he has competed in this competition. He won VG’s first event when he was in eighth grade. He said his strategy is to go fast and use water. This isn’t his first eating competition either. Besides Paczkis, Evans has competed in a pizza and pie eating contest. This weekend he ate a T-rex burger at McDonalds which was made out of nine patties. After winning the contest he said he feels alright physically. “I actually felt worst when I ate the burger,” Evans said.

Second-grader Kendall Bullock, 8, stands next to her unicorn box during Valentine’s Day card exchange party at Siple Elementary School on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Davison. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Flint resident Jia Ireland holds still as she has her picture taken during the “Black Panther” private screening at NCG Trillium Cinema on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, in Grand Blanc. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

James Jones, 28, of Saginaw walks out with a bouquet of flowers at Vogt’s Flowers and Gifts on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Flint. This evening Jones plans to propose to his girlfriend Kimdra Payton. “Today is the day,” Jones said. “I can’t stop smiling.” He adds that he couldn’t sleep last the night before. “She makes me strive to do better,” Payton said. “I couldn’t imagine my life without her.” Around 7 p.m. Jones proposed to Payton in Saginaw at an events center he rented out. She said yes.

Beecher cheerleader Michaya Gomez, 16, practices her jump before the game at Beecher High School Auditorium on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Mount Morris. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Beecher’s sophomore Earnest Sanders blocks Goodrich’s sophomore Colby Wiggins shot at Beecher High School Auditorium on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, in Mount Morris. Bronte Wittpenn | MLive.com

Carman-Ainsworth players listen to head coach Jay Witham during half time at Carman-Ainsworth High School on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, in Flint. Witham served as the voice of reason that helped restore order at a delicate time when his players were losing their composure against Mount Pleasant. The Cavaliers were on the verge of becoming unglued when a fight nearly broke out early in the third quarter, moments before Carman-Ainsworth’s 6-foot-7 Mike Fletcher received a technical foul after sending Mount Pleasant’s Jackson Ostrowsky to the floor with a hard foul under the basket.

Cardine Humes, 48, sits in front of the mural he painted on a building located on the streets of Dupont and West Dayton on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2018 in Flint. Humes is originally from Memphis, Tennessee, but moved to Flint when his father was diagnosed with cancer. He has been living in the city for six months and working on the mural for three months, weather permitting. Painting and drawing has always been a part of his life. “I was punished as a child in school,” Homes said. A teacher once caught him smoking cigarettes. “Before he would tell my mom he would give me an ultimatum.” The teacher would have him stay after class and draw. He would write sentences on the board and have Humes draw the words. “He knew I had some kind of talent,” Humes said. That talent didn’t stop even when he went blind in one eye from a sling shot accident when he was a boy. The mural was commissioned by the Urban Renaissance Center. It is focused on the restoration of neighborhoods of Flint. “It’s time to come together,” Humes said. “It’s time to restore.”

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