Flint Resident On Water Crisis: 'This Is An Embarrassment'

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 1/20/2016, 9:58 a.m.
If Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder thought he'd calm fears and win over residents when he addressed the water crisis in ...
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder

By Emily Smith, Greg Botelho and Joseph Netto

CNN

DETROIT (CNN) -- If Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder thought he'd calm fears and win over residents when he addressed the water crisis in Flint, he was mistaken.

"I want Gov. Snyder to solve the problem and basically get up out of office," longtime Flint resident Tomeko Hornaday told CNN, echoing the sentiments of many of the governor's critics.

"We shouldn't have to be going through this; we shouldn't have to do this. This is an embarrassment to the city of Flint, first of all, and an embarrassment to our government and to our residents," Hornaday said Tuesday night after Snyder's State of the State speech from the capital, Lansing.

In his speech, Snyder vowed to do everything in his power to solve the crisis of toxic lead contamination in the city's tap water, starting by asking legislators for $28 million to fund a series of immediate actions.

He also issued a heartfelt apology: "You deserve better. You deserve accountability. You deserve to know that the buck stops here with me. Most of all, you deserve to know the truth.

"No citizen of this great state should endure this kind of catastrophe," Snyder said. "Government failed you -- federal, state and local leaders -- by breaking the trust you placed in us."

But outside the address in Lansing, protesters expressed doubts their governor could lead efforts to fix this failure.

They chanted on the steps of the state Capitol, "Snyder must go."

A costly situation ...

Snyder's words also didn't appear to convince his critics beyond Flint and Lansing.

"There's no way to justify any of this," said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan. "Every single decision was made by the governor and this state government. ... The state government has the legal and moral responsibility."

The state should spend more to fix Flint's problems, she said, especially at a time when it boasts a budget surplus of $500 million.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has said the costs to undo the damage, both to infrastructure and residents' health, could be between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee called the figure Snyder proposed "a fraction of the money city residents have (already) paid for poisoned water that they cannot drink." And Stabenow said it would barely make a dent in paying for new water pipes that are needed because the old ones are damaged beyond repair.

"There's not a major commitment to make sure dollars go to fix this quickly," the senator told CNN's "New Day" on Wednesday. "And I continue to be stunned as we look at the slow walking of the state."

The Environmental Protection Agency is now looking at Michigan's entire drinking water program and how the Safe Drinking Water Act was implemented there. Its findings could add to the state's total price tag to address potential water woes.

These investigations follow the EPA's criticism about what it calls state and local authorities missteps in Flint.