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8-Year-Old Girl’s Email Prompts Obama Visit to Flint, Four Months After State of Emergency Declaration

US President Barack Obama speaks at the United Auto Workers-General Motors Center for Human Resources January 20, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski

US President Barack Obama speaks at the United Auto Workers-General Motors Center for Human Resources January 20, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski

President Obama will tour Flint, Michigan, next month, the White House announced Wednesday.

The visit was prompted by an email from 8-year-old Flint resident Amariyanna Copeny, who asked to meet the President.

“I am one of the children that is [affected] by this water and I’ve been doing my best to march in protest and to speak out for all the kids that live here in Flint,” she wrote, according to the Detroit News.

Copeny, called “Little Miss Flint,” wrote the email ahead of her visit to Washington last month to watch the congressional hearings about the crisis.

Obama wrote in response, “I am so proud of you for using your voice to speak out on behalf of the children of Flint. That’s why I want you to be the first to know that I’m coming to visit Flint on May 4th. I want to make sure people like you and your family are receiving the help you need and deserve. Like you, I’ll use my voice to call for change and help lift up your community.”

A White House official said the president would “hear first-hand from Flint residents about the public health crisis, receive an in-person briefing on the federal efforts in place to help respond to the needs of the people of Flint, and deliver remarks to community members,” the Detroit News reports.

The trip will be the president’s first to the city since declaring a state of emergency back in January. Obama met with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver in Washington the same month to discuss the city’s efforts. He also made a stop in Detroit for the 2016 North American International Auto Show on Jan 20.

But no trip to Flint was scheduled.

For months, critics slammed the president, urging him to visit the city in person. Flint-born filmmaker Michael Moore started a petition on his personal website — signed by more than 600,000 at last count — urging the president to visit.

Contamination began two years ago when Michigan switched the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the nearby Flint River, in a bid to save money. Officials failed to properly treat the river water, known among residents for its dirty appearance, causing lead from older pipes to leak into the city supply.

Mayor Weaver hoped that the visit would regain the attention of lawmakers, whose proposed aid has been slow to arrive.

“People are still suffering in Flint, families and children, like the little girl who wrote to our commander in chief, “ she said in a statement. “My hope is that, as the president shows he hasn’t forgotten about Flint, others in the Michigan Legislature and in Congress will take steps to show they haven’t forgotten, either.”

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