FLINT, Mich. (WJBK) - President Barack Obama was in Flint Wednesday for the first time since the water crisis.
Obama's trip was inspired by a letter written from a young resident Mari Copeny, called "Little Miss Flint."
"I received a letter from a young lady," he said. "You might know her as 'Little Miss Flint' like a lot of you, Mari has been worried about what's happening in Flint, she is worried about this city and this community.
"This 8-year-old spoke up in March and wanted to board a bus and meet with me."
Obama said that he knows the residents are scared.
"I wanted to come here and tell you all that I've got your back. We are paying attention."
Obama spoke about the good news – which he said was the effort made from children to prisoners in Indiana to raise money and or donate water.
The bad news he said, was that it is a “man-made disaster.”
Obama talked about a conversation he had with a pastor in Flint frustrated by the water crisis and feeling that the people were not listened to.
“You can’t have a Democracy where people feel that they don’t count.”
At one point Obama took a sip of filtered Flint water and quipped to the crowd to "settle down" adding that he actually needed a sip and it was not a stunt.
Obama spoke about the need for new pipes in Flint and the timetable for such a massive change.
“We are going to do anything we can to accelerate any new pipes in Flint. It is not going to happen next month, it’s not going to happen in six months … or overnight.
“It is going to take some time.”
The need for residents to have filters before new pipes could be installed and the need for child testing were also talking points.
"Don't lose hope," he said to residents. "Kids rise to the expectations that we set for them."
He is scheduled to later meet with residents in a roundtable discussion to hear how they're dealing with the lead contamination on a daily basis.
President Obama declared a state of emergency in the city in mid-January, which allowed federal aid to flow into the city.