President Obama to visit Flint

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FLINT (WJRT) - (04/27/16) - President Obama is coming to Flint.

He will travel to Mid-Michigan next Wednesday.

In a statement from the White House, he plans to speak with residents caught in the middle of the water crisis.

A letter is what got the President's attention. The the girl who wrote it is known as Little Miss Flint. She used her little voice to ask to meet the Obamas.

Last month, 8-year-old Mari Copeny, of Flint, sent the letter to President Obama. In her letter, she says “I am one of the children affected by this water crisis.”

She even talked about protesting that she's done on behalf of kids in the city.

This week, she's heading with a bus group to Washington D.C., where she asked to meet the Obamas.

The President wrote back. He told her that he wanted her to be the first to know that he is coming to Flint.

The President wrote, "I am so proud of you for using your voice to speak out on behalf of the children of Flint … I want to make sure people like you and your family are receiving the help you need and deserve …Letters from kids like you are what make me so optimistic for the future."

Flint City Council members hope to meet with President Obama to discuss recovery needs.

For months, council has increased demands to be at the table when major decisions about Flint's future are made.

Councilman Kerry Nelson pointed out that many people were let down in January when Obama attended the auto show in Detroit, but didn't stop in Flint.

Wednesday, Nelson called Mari a hero.

"I'm so glad her name is Little Miss Flint and I'm so glad that she wrote the letter for the President to come and see the situation she lives in every day basis of this water crisis and that means a lot to this community,” he said.

Nelson is grateful Obama will hear directly from people who are forced to use filters and bottled water every single day. He knows the President's time will be limited, but he hopes there's a chance to visit a distribution site where water, filters and test kits are being handed out to those in need.

Nelson also hopes the Commander in Chief goes inside someone's home to truly understand the stress the water emergency has placed on all generations - youth, adults and the elderly.

We asked Nelson what he would say to Obama should he get to meet him face-to-face.

"I'm thankful that he paused for the cause to come to Flint, but I will be asking him is there any resources, monies that he can assist us with to get us a new infrastructure, pipes dug up, new ones put in. Until that is done, really our problem is ongoing. We don't expect to stand in lines everyday from here on out to get water,” he said.

Obama's Emergency Declaration freed up $5 million for Flint to help purchase bottled water, filters and other supplies, but a wider "disaster" declaration was rejected because the water crisis is a man-made event.

Nelson says he'll urge the President to go to Capitol Hill and request lawmakers send additional aid; it's money contained in legislation Michigan's U.S. senators are fighting to get passed.

We also talked with Congressman Dan Kildee about what this visit means for him and the people he represents.

“Having the President use his time in my hometown to draw attention to this crisis and to add to the call for the state and Congress to step up and do what is right to create a recovery plan for Flint, I really appreciate him doing this,” he said.

In a statement from the White House, we know Obama will talk with people in Flint about what they are going through. He plans to give a first-hand account of what federal assistance is in place.

The White House will give more information on when and where the President will be next Wednesday in the coming days.

Watch the videos with this story for Little Miss Flint's reaction to the announcement of Obama's visit, as well as reaction by Flint employees and residents.

To read Mari's letter and President Obama's response, click the links in the 'Related Documents' section of this story.



 
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