Obama Visits Flint to Address the City's Water Crisis (Video)
May 04, 2016
President Obama met with Gov. Rick Snyder and residents of Flint, Michigan, in a roundtable discussion Wednesday. Flint’s water crisis is far from over, and Obama discussed how to get more federal help for the city with the Michigan governor.
Snyder has declared a state of emergency in Flint, where more than 100,000 citizens were exposed to lead-contaminated water.
The Michigan governor agreed to meet the president at the Flint airport.
This marks President Obama’s first trip to Flint since the water crisis began. In January, filmmaker Michael Moore, who is from Flint, blasted the president over not having traveled to the city in years. But it was the letter Obama received in March from 8-year-old Mari Copeny that seemed to seal the deal.
“I am one of the children that is affected by this water and I’ve been doing my best to march in protest and to speak out for all the kids that live here in Flint,” Copeny wrote. Obama was so touched, he responded personally.
Two months ago, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) blocked a $250 million aid package to Flint. The senator argued that “the money doesn’t target Flint specifically and it’s instead an opportunity for politicians to capitalize on the controversy.” Gov. Snyder indicated he had not spoken with Lee on this issue.
“We have to take this as an opportunity to rebuild Flint,” Obama said in his speech, citing the short-term challenge as water and the long-term challenge as making sure the city of Flint can prosper.
“It’s useful to remember that the laws banning lead paint in homes and reducing the lead that was in our environment were put in place just a generation ago,” Obama said, adding, “I may have ingested some lead paint when I was two or three years old, because at the time, people didn’t know it.”
Obama drank filtered Flint water during his visit, to confirm that the water was drinkable if a filter was used.
"That does not negate the need to replace some of these pipes, because ultimately, you want a system that you don’t have to put a filter on to be sure it’s safe," Obama told the crowd.