Second gentleman Doug Emhoff watch potholing in Durham during visit

Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Second gentleman visits Durham home, touts safer drinking water
Douglas Emhoff also visited a Durham elementary school and said his goal is to help eradicate lead pipes and the dangers that come with them.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The second gentleman Douglas Emhoff paid a visit to Durham on Tuesday. He along with Mayor Leonardo Williams and EPA leaders watched as city crews did a process called "potholing" which is a way to test pipes to ensure there's no lead.

They're planning to expand the program with EPA grant money aimed at eradicating lead from pipes across the country to make the water supply safer.

Doug Emhoff
Doug Emhoff

Emhoff later made his way to a Durham neighborhood as part of a nationwide initiative from the Biden-Harris administration aimed at eradicating lead pipes and the dangers that come with them.

He ended up at a couple's home in Durham, ultimately finding out the pipes there were copper, which came as a relief to the couple, But the visit meant even more as lead in the water continues to be an issue in the Bull City.

"It feels like it's finally getting the attention that it needs," said homeowner, Alicea Easthope-Frazier. "But our infrastructure needs a lot of help and so to have that momentum and that kind of political will behind it, I think is really powerful. And I think it's a good sign of what's to come, hopefully."

The experience was a bit of a whirlwind for Alicea and her husband, Evan Easthope-Frazier, with the visit coming together fairly quickly and feeling a bit surreal.

"Kind of crazy telling, telling some coworkers as I was wrapping up that coworker lunch to be like, 'yeah, I've got to go because the second gentleman is going to be coming by this afternoon,'" Evan said. "So yeah, pretty exciting day."

VP Kamala Harris' husband Douglas Emhoff makes a stop in North Carolina to talk about infrastructure, and safe drinking water.

Emhoff then traveled a few minutes down the road to Lyons Farm Elementary School where he announced new funding to eradicate lead pipes across the country. It includes hundreds of millions of dollars for North Carolina and funding specifically for testing in schools.

"We have work to do here and work to do throughout the country, but we're getting there," Emhoff said. "So, at this additional funding, we'll be able to do the testing and make sure we know where the problems are."

He spoke one-on-one only with ABC11 to talk about the greater effect of today's visit and the strategy to tackle lead in our water.

"It's going to be literally block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, school by school until we get this done," Emhoff said. "And the goal is to get it all done within 10 years. And I think we'll get there."

He said his wife, Vice President Kamala Harris, and President Joe Biden pay close attention to the results of his visits.

"When I come home from these trips it's like 'Hey Dougie, how was it?" And I said look here's what I saw I'd never seen a pothole-ing so it actually helps me explain how it works and how they're literally doing this street by street and what this additional funding is for to actually do the testing," Emhoff said. "You need money and funding to do this so you can figure out where it is to get the job done.

"Everything I see, I talk to the vice president, the president, and we hopefully turn that into additional action as required," Emhoff added.

Durham City Crews Potholing to check pipes for lead
Durham City Crews Potholing to check pipes for lead

And of course, this is an election year which means he attended a political event. Emhoff was at a Cary fundraiser Tuesday and had a campaign event scheduled for Wednesday morning in Raleigh before flying to Alabama later In the day. He said he believes North Carolina is very much in play this year after a narrow loss for Biden in 2020.

Voters can expect many more visits from the Biden administration heading into the fall, Emhoff told ABC11.

Potholing in Durham
Potholing in Durham