President Barack Obama on Wednesday reacted to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan by saying that if he were a local parent, he’d be “beside myself that my kids’ health could be at risk.”
“You know, I am very proud of what I’ve done as president, but the only job that’s more important to me is the job of father,” Obama told a crowd at the United Auto Worker’s General Motors training center in Detroit. “And I know that if I was a parent up there, I would be beside myself that my kids’ health could be at risk. That’s why over the weekend, I declared a federal emergency in Flint.”
Contaminated water in the predominantly African-American, working-class Michigan city was found to contain dangerous levels of lead, sparking a national outcry.
The president declared a federal state of emergency in Flint on Saturday, which will allow the community to receive water, water filters, water test kits and other crucial items from the federal government. The administration also designated a federal coordinator to oversee the distribution of supplies.
Obama said in his Wednesday speech that he’d met with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver at the White House to assure her that she had his administration’s support.
“I told her that we are gonna have her back, and all the people of Flint’s back, as they work their way through this terrible tragedy,” the president said. “It is a reminder of why you can’t short change basic services that we provide to our people and that we together provide as a government to make sure that public health and safety is preserved.”