President Barack Obama made a visit to Flint, Michigan May 4, drinking sips of water in front of a crowd of 1,000 at Flint Northwestern High School, to show residents the tap water is safe to drink.
“If you’re using a filter, if you’re installing it, then Flint water at this point is drinkable,” the president stated.
Obama said he made the visit after receiving a letter from an 8-year-old girl named Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny, who said in her letter Flint’s tap water smelled like “bleach” and “old fish.”
Obama told residents he’d traveled to the city in order to hear their concerns regarding the city’s recently contaminated water supply.
“That’s why I’m here,” he stated. “To tell you directly that I see you, and I hear you. I also came here to tell you that I’ve got your back. That we’re paying attention.”
In 2014, when Michigan state officials switched the city’s water supply from the Detroit system to the Flint River, the water hadn’t been treated correctly, and lead from old pipes leached into the system.
As a result, residents have voiced extreme discontent with state and federal governments as of late, who took months to address the crisis, while families and children were unknowingly exposed to high levels of lead poisoning.
Obama called the situation a “screw up,” however urged residents to move past pointing the finger, as the city begins to fix the problem.
Currently, one city official and two state environmental officials have been indicted in the matter, and other investigations are ongoing.
“I do not believe that anybody consciously wanted to hurt the people in Flint,” Obama stated. “But, I do think there’s a larger issue that we have to acknowledge, because I do think that part of what contributed to this crisis was a broader mindset, a bigger attitude, a corrosive attitude that exists in our politics, and exists in too many levels of our government. And, it’s a mindset that believes that less government is the highest good no matter what.”
Obama said this is what causes cities like Flint to remain at the bottom of most politicians political agendas.
In addition to the meeting with residents, the president also met with Gov. Rick Snyder while in Michigan, who has recently received calls to resign following the crisis.
Reportedly, the audience booed Snyder when the president announced he had been present at the meeting.
“No, no, no, he’s here,” Obama stated, adding that they had been working together to fix the problem.
Recently, Obama has asked Congress for more emergency funding for the city, and introduced a water infrastructure package that includes $100 million to repair Flint’s water system, along with $50 million for residents’ health care needs in the city.
“We can turn this into an opportunity to rebuild Flint even better than before,” the president stated. “The problems of water were a symptom of a broader issue, and that is a city that had lost a lot of resources, lost a lot of its tax base, was cutting a lot of services, and increasingly, didn’t have capacity. And so, our goal here is to use this moment in which everybody’s attention is focused, to see if we can start rebuilding, and moving Flint in a better direction.”
Visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/05/04/president-obama-flint-its-not-enough-just-fix-water-we-have-fix-mindset for additional information regarding the president’s visit.