Flint mayor plans Washington trip to seek Obama’s help

Jonathan Oosting Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Flint — Mayor Karen Weaver, hoping to discuss Flint's water crisis with President Barack Obama or high level staff, will travel Tuesday to Washington, D.C. But with Obama set to tour the Detroit auto show Wednesday, Weaver is willing to make it a short trip.

“If it means I go to Washington and come back, and then go back again, I’m going to do whatever I need to do to have that opportunity to talk with the president (or) high-level people about the city of Flint and what we need,” she said Monday.

Obama declared Saturday a federal emergency in the Flint area, where residents continue to rely on bottled water and filters due to a lead contamination crisis. It cleared the way for $5 million in federal aid.

But the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied Gov. Rick Snyder’s request to declare it a major disaster and provide $96 million in assistance, a decision the Snyder administration plans to appeal.

“I’m going to urge reconsideration and whatever other way they can get some funds to help us,” Weaver said following a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at the Flint Public Library.

The emergency funding is “a first step,” she said. “It’s something we didn't have before, but we’re not going to stop until we get more, because we know this isn't going to fix the problems that we’re facing here."

Obama is scheduled to tour the North American International Auto Show on Wednesday and deliver remarks at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources, where he is expected to highlight Detroit's revival and auto industry growth since a $85 billion federal bailout.

The president's initial itinerary does not include a visit to Flint, and Weaver said she had not heard anything different, but she remains optimistic that the two will be able to connect in person or by phone.

“I don’t know if he'll come to Flint on Wednesday — that would be nice if he came to Flint — but I’ll go to Detroit. I’ll talk to him wherever, because the main thing is that he needs to hear firsthand what’s going on,” she said.


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