Congressman Dan Kildee, Members of Congress Visit Flint to Meet with City Residents, Small Business Owners Affected by Ongoing Water Crisis
Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today led a congressional delegation to Flint, Mich., to hear directly from residents and local-area business owners affected by the city’s ongoing water crisis. While on the ground in Flint, Members of Congress also received a briefing on the crisis at the federal response center and toured a water distribution site. The delegation is the second delegation to visit Flint with Congressman Kildee in recent weeks.
In addition to Congressman Kildee, five other Members of Congress joined the delegation trip to Flint, including Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52), Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (MI-14) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12).
“I appreciate my colleagues in Congress visiting Flint to hear directly from families and small businesses affected by the ongoing water crisis,” Congressman Kildee said. “Flint is a strong community, but we need more resources to overcome this terrible tragedy. It’s clear that state decisions led to this crisis, and the state must step up to do more to help, both in the immediate and long-term future. The federal government also has it in its capacity to help, and I appreciate the quick response by the President and federal agencies led by Dr. Nicole Lurie on the ground in Flint. Getting Flint the resources it needs to recover from this crisis continues to be my top priority.”
“While state and local decisions led to Flint’s water crisis, we all have a responsibility to ensure the city’s families and small businesses have access to safe drinking water once again and help prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again,” stated Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer. “Today, the Congressional delegation heard directly from Flint small businesses who are rightly concerned with how the ongoing water crisis is affecting their ability to do business. I also join in thanking Dr. Lurie for providing Members with a briefing today on the ongoing federal response she is leading here in Flint to help the city respond and recover. This Congressional delegation – and all of our Democratic colleagues – are committed to supporting the people of Flint throughout this tragedy, and I thank Rep. Kildee and our Democratic Members from Michigan for their tireless advocacy.”
“Congressman Kildee has been a tireless leader for the people of Flint, and I thank him for leading this visit to help us understand how this man-made crisis occurred and what we can do to fix it. Governor Snyder and his staff are central figures in the decision-making process that led to the poisoning of Flint residents, and although he promises to be accountable, he refuses to turn over the documents we requested. The people of Flint deserve the truth, and Congress cannot conduct a thorough and complete investigation without his documents,” said Congressman Cummings.
“As a child of Michigan, I asked Rep. Kildee how I could help; I thank him for his invitation and for his leadership. As an environmental lawyer, I learned that children exposed to metals often suffer permanent damage because their defenses against poisons like mercury and lead have not yet fully developed. Every child in America deserves the right to grow up with safe drinking water. The people I met today are honest and hard-working and we should be helping these families, and these children, as if they were our own,” said Congressman Peters.
“Up until now, much of the discussion about the heart-breaking impact of the lead-laden water in Flint has focused on health threats to nearly 10,000 children and their families. There are, however, other serious impacts we must address. The damage done to local business, particularly small businesses, has been similarly devastating,” Rep. Lawrence said. “Flint, however, is not alone in this struggle. Detroit and other areas in my District, as well as much of Michigan, continues to fight to overcome damage caused by other man-made catastrophes like NAFTA, the Great Economic Recession, and the housing crisis. It’s important that we keep the spotlight on these policy-driven disasters in order to ensure our constituents receive the answers and the assistance they need and deserve. Until we have the truth, and until justice is served, we must not stop. We must make this moment a movement for all of America.”
“It was important for my House colleagues from across the country to join us in Flint today to learn more about the challenges facing the people of Flint, as well as challenges potentially facing other communities throughout the U.S. As I have repeatedly said, government at all levels must come together to ensure the people of Flint have the resources they need immediately, identify what it will take to fix the problem permanently, get the facts and hold people accountable, and make sure this type of man-made crisis never happens in another community in America. This is an important dialogue that moves us in that direction and I thank Congressman Kildee and my colleagues, as well as the business owners, non-profit leaders and everyone who participated in this important discussion today,” said Congresswoman Dingell.
During today’s visit, the Members of Congress held a roundtable with nearly 20 invited local-area small business representatives to discuss how the ongoing water crisis has affected their businesses. The roundtable, held in downtown Flint, was also attended by Mayor Karen Weaver, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich and a representative from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
While in Flint, the Members of Congress also received a briefing at the Unified Command Group from Dr. Nicole Lurie, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), about the ongoing federal response in Flint. Their briefing provided an update on current response efforts and allowed the Members of Congress to engage in a dialogue with federal agencies on the ground regarding resources still needed to address the water crisis. In addition to HHS, representatives from the Centers for Disease Control, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are located at the site.
In the afternoon, the Members of Congress visited the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village, which is currently acting as a water distribution site in the city. The site, in partnership with the Michigan Muslim Community Council, is playing an important role in helping Flint residents get clean water. Many Muslim relief organizations, including Islamic Relief USA and Life of Relief and Development, have partnered with the Broome Center to gather donations and water for distribution. Over 300 volunteers from the Muslim community have been working in Flint since early January distributing water and supplying filters to city residents.
After requests from Congressman Kildee, this month the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced it would make available loans for eligible Flint businesses that have been adversely affected by the Flint water crisis. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) declaration enables SBA to provide economic injury disaster loans to small businesses that have sustained substantial economic injury as a direct result of the water crisis. Under an EIDL declaration, eligible businesses and non-profits are able to apply for up to $2 million in long term, low interest loans, depending on their circumstances. These loan proceeds can then be directed to working capital needs like making payroll or replacing inventories. Loan applications will be accepted through November 7, 2016.
In addition to these new loan programs, SBA is also engaged with city leaders and Flint small businesses to make non-disaster programs available in the city. SBA has also opened a Flint Business Recovery Center that will hold office hours through Feb. 25th to provide additional assistance for Flint businesses. The Business Recovery Center will operate out of the Oak Business Center at 2712 Saginaw Street and its hours are Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET.