President Barack Obama landed in Flint Wednesday morning, marking his first visit to the city since its contaminated drinking water crisis began two years ago.
Air Force One landed at Bishop International Airport and Gov. Rick Snyder was among the officials waiting on the tarmac to greet the president. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver also greeted Obama. U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell and Dan Kildee were aboard the plane, along with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy.
After leaving the airport, Obama's motorcade headed into the city, passing a GM plant that stopped using Flint's water in October 2014 because its high chloride content was rusting engine parts.
Obama’s first stop was the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan in Flint, where a briefing was expected to last close to one hour with federal officials. Snyder and Weaver entered the food bank shortly after noon to participate in the briefing.
Obama's visit underscores the need for cooperation at all levels of government to make Flint's water safe to drink, but also highlights ongoing tensions between Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the Democratic president and between Snyder and the city's Democratic Karen Weaver.
During the visit, Obama will have briefings with federal officials, Snyder and Weaver; meetings with Flint children, a neighborhood round-table discussion, and a speech to about 1,000 people at Flint Northwestern High School.The president's visit also comes amid growing frustrations with actions taken – and not taken – so far, particularly by the State of Michigan.
Flint resident Mona Munroe-Younis, who was pregnant when the lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water began and now has a 5-month-old son Sebastian who has skin problems, said Wednesday, “This has been a nightmare.”
Obama's words and action of drinking the Flint water were reminiscent of a media event Gov. Rick Snyder held about three weeks ago in which he promised to drink filtered Flint water for 30 days, except when traveling.