Time: 1:23 a.m. CEST
President Barack Obama returned from the trip to Flint, Michigan where he had an emotional and powerful speech about the water contamination in the city. President Obama requested for a glass of water during the remarks to the community, which he drank before the eyes of the residents and community attending to the speech in Flint.
“I’m still waiting for my water. (Laughter.) Somebody obviously didn’t hear me. Usually I get my water pretty quick. Hold on a second. Now, the reason I know I’m okay is because I already had some Flint water. There we go. I really did need a glass of water. This is not a stunt,” Obama said before the President got his glass of filtered tap water from Flint.
Despite the meeting with the eight-year-old Flint resident who wrote a letter to the President about the contaminated water, Obama said he came to Flint “to tell you directly that I see you and I hear you, and I want to hear directly from you about how this public health crisis has disrupted your lives, how it’s made you angry, how it’s made you worried.”
President Obama met and heard directly from those “who are leading the federal response and who are working hard to make sure that Flint is whole again, to make sure that this proud city bounces back not just to where it was, but stronger than ever. And I want all of you to know I am confident that Flint will come back.”
Obama promised full response from the federal authorities. “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.”
“Flint’s recovery is everybody’s responsibility,” Obama said.
The President pointed out the importance of many volunteers who donated their time to help installations of filters, hundreds of faucets by going door to door, night and day, by not asking for anything in return, they’re just doing the right thing.
Obama explained that Flint’s economy has been taking hits for decades now — plants closing, jobs moving away. Manufacturing has shrunk. And that’s made it harder for the city to maintain city services. And let’s face it, government officials at every level weren’t attentive to potential problems the way they should have been.
As Obama suggested, ” you can’t set up a whole water system for a city. That’s not something you do by yourself. You do it with other people. You can’t hire your own fire department, or your own police force, or your own army. There are things we have to do together — basic things that we all benefit from.”
The President announced acceleration of the process for getting new pipes here in Flint. “But even with all the money, even with an efficient, speeded-up process, it’s going to take a while for all the pipes to be replaced,” Obama said.
But with a hope he explained, “here is a sermon about a phoenix rising from these ashes. And there is the opportunity out of this complete screw-up, this painful tragedy, this neglect, this disappointment to actually pull together and make for a better future.”
Obama promised he arrived in Flint to say that “you can make a difference and rebuild this city better than ever.”