Flint families pleading to speak with Gov. Snyder while in D.C.

Posted at 7:11 PM, Mar 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-16 19:11:56-04

WASHINGTON — Flint families who traveled to Washington D.C. for this week's congressional hearingson the water crisis said they sent a letter to Gov. Rick Snyder's office pleading to meet with him.

Laura MacIntyre, who brought two of her children, said she and her family stopped bathing and drinking the water immediately after the switch, sensing something was wrong.

"I am so frustrated and angry and annoyed," she said, adding how grateful she's been to take a shower two days in a row while visiting Washington.

"We're grateful for the bottled water but taking showers two days in a row, I'm so ecstatic about that."

The "Flint Five" share their stories Wednesday.

Dubbing themselves the "Flint Five," MacIntyre and other families shared their stories of what life has been like in wake of the crisis with others in Washington on Wednesday, including AFL-CIO executive vice president Tefere Gere and actor and water activist Mark Ruffalo.

Three more busloads of Flint residents are expected to arrive in Washington D.C. Thursday morning for the congressional hearings.

"Nobody wants to accept accountability," said Lewenna Terry. "They're blaming it on everybody and it just doesn't make sense. Just say 'I made a mistake, let's fix it, instead of blaming it on everybody else."

Terry and MacIntyre said they were disgusted with Tuesday's hearings where former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley was among several former state and federal officials who testified during a congressional oversight committee.

"They're all culpable, they are all responsible because they all had a hand in this and I would like every single one of them to be held accountable for the actions they took," MacIntyre said.

The families showed reporters a letter they submitted to Snyder's office asking to meet with him during his time in D.C. on Thursday.

While Snyder will be available to speak with media following the hearings, a spokesperson for the governor told FOX 17 his schedule didn't not allow for the meeting to happen.

On Monday, Snyder told FOX 17 he was looking forward to testifying, adding he's hoping to have "reasonable" dialogue with committee members.

“I want to fix it," he said on Monday. "There was failure at all levels of government: local, state and federal. You just don’t walk away from that, you say ‘here’s way to solve those problems, here’s ways to learn from those experiences and go fix it.'”

Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, speaks with FOX 17 on Wednesday.

But Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, said he wants to hear more from the governor than an apology and promises to fix the issue.

"What he hasn’t said is how," Kildee told FOX 17. "What’s the long term plan for Flint, what does the recovery plan for Flint look like, and how much is the state willing to put up to pay for it.”

Kildee, who said he travels home every Friday to Flint, said the crisis is personal and everyone involved has the responsibility to work beyond expectations to "get it right."

“It really breaks my heart what is happening in Flint because it’s not just a community I represent, that would be enough, but it’s my hometown. It’s where I grew up," he said. “It underscores the point that it’s a failed philosophy of government that’s at play here and they treat this city like it doesn’t matter.”

Legislation introduced by Kildee clarifying when the Environmental Protection Agency should notify the public when concentrations of lead or other contaminants in drinking water exceed safe levels has already passed in the House. It remains stalled in the Senate where it is tied to a pending aide bill and the philosophical debate over the level of the responsibility the government bears in providing aide to the state.

“My view is the state bears the lion’s share of the responsibility," he said. "But theses citizens of Flint are American citizens, they’re citizens of Michigan, they have the right for both levels of gov’t to come to their aide.”

The bill includes $100 million in grant monies to be used in Flint for infrastructure upgrades. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, is among democratic lawmakers leading the charge to approve the money.

"Here we have, clearly a disaster, whether its man-made otherwise," Peters said. "Ask a victim, they don’t care, they just need help and the federal government should step up and that’s why I’m fighting to aggressively to bring in federal money as well as state money.”

But Congressman Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, said that responsibility lies solely with state, arguing that providing federal funding would create an unwanted precedent.

"If you have the federal government responsible for these kinds of local infrastructure projects, the people of Michigan are going to lose in the long run," Amash told FOX 17. "We’re going to be paying our tax dollars for other states and you’re going to have huge federal bureaucracy.”

In prepared testimony obtained early by FOX 17 for his Thursday appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Snyder urged Congress to "immediately" pass the legislation.

The bill would also include more money in the form of subsidized loans for water pipe improvements for cities in other states.

Snyder also said a lead-contamination water crisis in Flint represents "a failure of government at all levels."

But according to his written testimony, he plans to tell Congress that the main culprit in the man-made disaster is a state agency he oversees. He said the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality repeatedly assured him and other officials that water from the Flint River was safe, when in reality it had dangerous levels of lead.

Snyder also said in prepared testimony that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also made mistakes. He says top officials silenced an EPA water expert who tried to raise alarms about Flint's water.

Earlier Wednesday, Snyder said the Obama administration denied a request for federal money to help Flint households.

Snyder said he was disappointed the Federal Emergency Management Agency rejected his request for funding through emergency protective measures and Individuals and Households programs. They would have covered costs of food, water and other needs, as well as help repair water systems.

FEMA earlier approved an emergency declaration to bring up to $5 million in direct funding to Flint. Federal officials denied declaring a disaster, which could have brought millions more.

Snyder will testify Thursday morning alongside current EPA head Gina McCarthy beginning at 9 a.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

FOX 17 political reporter Josh Sidorowicz is in Washington D.C. covering the hearings all week.