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Obama to See Flint Water Crisis First Hand

  • VOA News

FILE - Mari Copeny, 8, of Flint, Mich. sits on the lap of her mother as they and other Flint residents and supporters wait outside the room where Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testify before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington, March 17, 2016.

FILE - Mari Copeny, 8, of Flint, Mich. sits on the lap of her mother as they and other Flint residents and supporters wait outside the room where Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testify before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington, March 17, 2016.

President Barak Obama will visit Flint, Michigan next week, putting the spotlight on the northern industrial city that has been embroiled in a lead-contaminated water crisis.

The White House says Obama will fly to Flint on May 4, in response to a letter he received from eight-year-old Amariyanna Copeny. She is one of an estimated 100,000 Flint residents who have been denied reliable access to safe drinking and bathing water since the crisis began.

Copeny asked to meet with him during her visit to Washington last month to attend congressional hearings on the water crisis. The president responded in a letter that he will come to Flint to see the effects of the crisis firsthand.

A nurse draws a blood sample from a student at Eisenhower Elementary School in Flint, Michigan, Jan. 26, 2016. Students at the school were being tested for lead after the metal was found in the city's drinking water.

A nurse draws a blood sample from a student at Eisenhower Elementary School in Flint, Michigan, Jan. 26, 2016. Students at the school were being tested for lead after the metal was found in the city's drinking water.

The crisis in the Midwestern city began in April 2014 when city officials switched Flint's water source in a money-saving move. Shortly thereafter, residents began to complain about the quality of the water, which was later determined to be tainted with lead.

Dangerously high levels of lead had been found in the blood of some residents, including children. They are particularly susceptible to lead exposure, which can cause lower IQs and behavioral problems.

The lead discovery prompted Governor to announce in October 2015 that Flint would again get its water from its earlier source, the Detroit municipal system.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy appear before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington, March 17, 2016.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy appear before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington, March 17, 2016.

Since January 5, 2016, Genesee County, which includes Flint, has been under a state of emergency while residents use filters and bottled water.

The trip will be Obama's first visit to Flint since the water crisis became widely known.

Some material for this report came from AFP.

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