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Flint Water Crisis Update: Obama To Visit After Letter From 8-Year-Old, Senators Reach Deal on Grants

Apr 28, 2016 12:52 PM EDT

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan seems far from over, but at least there is some hope as President Barack Obama announced a visit to the city and the Senate reached a deal on grants and loans for better water infrastructure.

The Detroit Free Press reported that the White House has confirmed Obama's visit to Flint next Wednesday, May 4, to listen firsthand to the residents about the public health crisis stemming from their lead-contaminated water. The president will also address their concerns and deliver a message to the community.

Obama's visit is a response to a letter to the president by an 8-year-old Flint child named Amariyanna Copeny. The White House released her letter, where she told the Chief Executive that she is affected by the water crisis and that she has traveled to Washington DC to listen to congressional hearings about their pressing problem.

Copeny, also known as "Little Miss Flint," also wrote that she has been actively marching and speaking out on the crisis being faced by her city and its people, particularly her fellow children.

   Mari Copeny's letter to president by Detroit Free Press

While she did not get to meet Obama during her trip to the capital, the president responded to her letter on April 25, saying that while presidents may be busy, the most important people are still the citizens.

Through the letter, the young girl became the first person to know of Obama's visit.

"I want to make sure people like you and your family are receiving the help you need and deserve," he wrote.

He added that letters from children like her give him optimism for the future and that he hopes to meet her during his visit next week.

This will be Obama's first visit to Flint after the crisis reached national spotlight.

MLive reported that the city broke through national stories after high blood lead levels were discovered in some Flint children after the city tapped its water source from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. State regulators did not require the river water to be treated and the lead from aging pipes and plumbing contaminated the water supply.

At present, the city reconnected to the Detroit water system but officials said the water still has lead levels higher than federal standards.

Obama declared a federal emergency on January 16, freeing up $5 million in federal aid.

The crisis has also recently pushed the Senate to reach a bipartisan agreement to authorize $100 million for grants and loans to replace the contaminated pipes in Flint and other cities with similar emergencies, ABCNews reported.

Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters of Michigan and Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla. formed the deal that would also give $70 million nationwide in credit subsidies for loans for better water infrastructure and $50 million for lead prevention programs.

This is the second time in two months that the Senate has reached a deal.

In a statement, Peters said the people of Flint are "in dire need of assistance," with Stabenow adding that they are "not giving up until it gets done."

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