At the height of Flint’s water crisis, nearly 9,000 children had been exposed to lead from drinking contaminated water. Mayor Karen Weaver reported an estimated 5,000 homes were in need of lead pipe replacements.
President Barack Obama signed an emergency disaster declaration in January, ordering federal aid in conjunction with volunteer efforts on the ground, but it was only set for ninety days and has since expired.
Eight-year-old Mari Copeny, also known as “Little Miss Flint,” wrote President Obama a letter in hopes he would come to the city to see the conditions residents are facing first-hand.
The commander-in-chief is set to hit the ground running when he touches down in Flint today.
Mr. Obama’s schedule includes visiting a food bank, participating in a roundtable discussion, meeting with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, speaking to approximately one-thousand residents at Flint Northwestern High School, and meeting with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.
Mayor Weaver told Roland Martin she will continue the dialogue with Mr. Obama that started at the White House and expressed her appreciation that he is making the trip. Now going into the third year of the Flint water crisis, Weaver said, “I want him (President Obama) to experience first-hand what the residents of Flint are having to deal with on a day-to-day basis.”
Martin, host of NewsOne Now, asked Mayor Weaver if she would put a glass of water in Pres. Obama’s hand and ask, “Mr. President, is this safe to drink?”
Weaver responded to Martin saying, “I don’t have to put it in his hand and ask that question — one of the things we know is it’s not safe to drink…What I am going to say to him is we have a fast-start program — we need to get these lead lines removed and we need the funding to do it — I need your support,” said Weaver.
She later stated the man-made disaster is “fixable if we have the funds to do it.” Mayor Weaver also addressed the human cost of the Flint water crisis, saying “no, we can’t” fix the people but, “We can give them the resources and support and services that we need and we need the funding to go along with that as well.”
When asked about the significance of Pres. Obama’s visit to Flint, Mayor Weaver said, “This has gone on long enough and people need to understand that the president cares, that he is going to do something about it, he’s going to talk with governor, and hopefully that will encourage or give the pressure that is needed for us to get the resources from the state and the federal government.”
She added, “It is very important, because what people have been asking is when is he coming and why hasn’t he come’” to Flint to see what American citizens have been subjected to as a result of the mismanagement of an American city where – as Mayor Weaver said in a previous interview – “They chose profits over people.”
Watch Roland Martin, Mayor Karen Weaver, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss Pres. Obama’s visit to Flint, Michigan in the video clip above.
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