“I’ve got your back,” President Barack Obama said to Flint residents on Wednesday during his visit to the Michigan city.
He added, “I will not rest and I’m going to make sure that the leaders at every level of government don’t rest until every drop of water that flows to your homes is safe to drink and safe to cook with and safe to bathe in.”
During his address, POTUS also drank a glass of Flint tap water to show that the city’s water supply is getting better in the wake of the water crisis, the Associated Press noted. He also stressed that these improvements will not be “done overnight.”
He also pointed the finger to the state government for this water crisis and said he empathized with residents for feeling “let down.” Most important, he stressed that clean water is a basic right that the government needs to provide to its citizens.
“It’s an ideology that undervalues the common good,” he said.
"I want all of you to know I am confident that Flint will come back. I will not rest, and I'm going to make sure that the leaders, at every level of government, don’t rest until every drop of water that flows to your homes is safe to drink and safe to cook with, and safe to bathe in—because that's part of the basic responsibilities of a government in the United States of America." —President Obama in Flint
Gov. Rick Synder also spoke to the crowd that unsurprisingly booed him, says the AP.
“You didn’t create this problem. Government failed you,” he said. To which folks in the audience replied, “You failed.”
This icy response is to be expected given that Synder decided to switch Flint’s water supply from the Detroit water system to the Flint River, a body of water known to have copious amounts of trash, pollution and iron,there have been numerous reports of hair loss and rashes, thousands exposed to dangerous toxins and a whopping 9,000 children diagnosed with lead poisoning.
Even though the water was changed back last October, the supply still has major problems. On Friday, Jan 29, state officials announced that the levels of lead are still so high in Flint that they are urging all residents to get their water tested with free kits being passed out at local fire stations, wrote the Detroit Press. Even now, most of the residents must drink bottled water. The crisis has been so bad that President Barack Obama had to declare a state of emergency earlier this year.
Meanwhile, in addition to addressing the city publicly, POTUS made sure to get some face time with Amariyanna Copeny, an 8-year old from Flint who sent him a letter asking him to visit Flint in the wake of the devastating water crisis, Time wrote.
“I would have been happy to see Mari in Washington,” Obama said on Wednesday.
“But when something like this happens, a young girl shouldn’t have to go to Washington to be heard. I thought her President should come to Flint to meet with her.”
"When something like this happens, a young girl shouldn't have to go to Washington to be heard. I thought her President should come to Flint to meet with her." —President Obama on 8-year-old Mari Copeny. Mari, AKA "Little Miss Flint", wrote to the President about how she's working to bring attention to the public health crisis in her community, and yesterday she met the President in Michigan.