Winter storms that swept through the south last month caused long-term damage in several states, withwithout electricity and without water for days. While the focus was on the Lone Star State, Jackson, Mississippi continues to suffer from storm-related issues.
In anticipation of a storm on February 14, Mississippi Governor Reeves and Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann declared a state of emergency. The storm left thousands of people in the state without power, which has since been almost fully recovered.
However, Jackson is still feeling the effects of the storm, with a boil water advisory still in place, more than two weeks after the blizzard. Reeves too activated the National Guard to assist with water distribution efforts in the area. And the city has set up several non-potable water or flushing water distribution sites this week.
“During this crisis, a total of 80 water pipe ruptures / leaks have been reported across the city,” according to a press release from the city. As of Sunday evening, 51 repairs had been made by the water maintenance department, which continued to work on the repairs.
In addition to boiling water during the crisis, residents are also urged to limit their water consumption. A representative for the city of Jackson told CBS News it is not known how many people were without water because the system – which serves 43,000 customers – is old. The city counts and records water outages by calling them.
At a press conference on the city’s water supply on Sunday, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba said the lack of water was a health and sanitation issue. “We have seen several areas without water that are starting to see water, but we are certainly far from ready to claim victory until every inhabitant has reclaimed their water,” said Lumumba.
City engineer Dr Charles Williams said Sunday was “a much better day” than the last. “The complex nature is that our system broke down, like a computer, and now we’re trying to rebuild it,” he said. “And so the progress has been very slow.”
Williams said that once the city’s water tanks are replenished using water supplies from two factories, city officials will focus on lifting the boil water advisories. water.
“I know the residents are trying to understand this process and be patient – they just want to see water,” Lumumba said. “I think it’s important to start by understanding that what we had to face and what we saw as a result of the winter storm, the water treatment facilities are not supposed to close down to the level that we have known.
Lumumba said that because the water facilities have been shut down, “the process of getting him back to where he was before the storm was a difficult recovery process.” The mayor also said Jackson is a “legacy town” and needs long-term support to deal with the water problem “which has gone on for decades without being adequately addressed.”
He said Jackson is an “aging city with an aging budget” with an annual budget of around $ 300 million and “more than likely a more than $ 2 billion problem with our infrastructure.” He did not specify a timeline for when the water would be restored. CBS News has contacted Lumumba, Williams and City Council and the Department of Public Works for a statement or comment and is awaiting a response.
Last week, city council member Kenny Stokes criticized Lumumba’s response to the storms, saying at a press conference Wednesday that “the town of Jackson has suffered unduly because of the mayor’s rookie mistakes.”
It came after Lumumba said at a city council meeting a week ago that Stokes had spread false information about the storm relief efforts.
Lumumba also defended his administration’s response to the crisis at a press conference on Tuesday: “We offer as proof that this is an act of God, that is, it is enough to simply look at all the places that time has affected, and the fact that communities are experiencing the same trauma our residents are experiencing today – Houston, Texas, Austin, Texas Canton, Mississippi, Vicksburg, Shreveport, Louisiana and many more.
“It was an act of God, extreme weather conditions, that ravaged old systems and traumatized our residents,” Lumumba said. “In times of crisis, the first victim is trust, which is why I call not only the media, but also the members of our council.” He then said that “disinformation” had spread.
During his press conference, Stokes refuted Lumumba’s claims that he had been spreading disinformation by saying, “Tell me one thing I said that was wrong. I showed you people who didn’t. have no water. I showed you people who can’t flush the toilet. “
CBS News has reached out to Lumumba and Stokes for comment on this and is awaiting a response.
As city officials argued in the press, Jackson residents and many others posted their frustrations at the situation on social media. “Trying not to complain but it’s so wild. Tomorrow will be the start of the third week that me and so many others in Jackson have been without water. I don’t blame anyone because these problems predate our leadership.” , Arekia S. Bennett, teacher and director of Mississippi Votes, tweeted.
Bennett also shared a connection to the non-profit organization Shower Power, a mobile shower unit brought to cities in need. Shower Power will be in Jackson to provide clean showers for people without water.
“The entire town of Jackson, Mississippi, has no water or is on a boil-water alert. It’s been 2 weeks now, in week 3. Why isn’t this getting Texas attention?” another resident tweeted.
Activist Erin Brockovich also tweeted about water issues: “Lots of money but bad water or not !! Jackson, Mississippi, has been without water for a week.”
“Not only was the city’s water treatment plant shut down, but the governor dispatched the National Guard to bring water to the city’s 160,000 residents,” she wrote.
“How come the people of the capital of one state of the richest nation in the world have been without running water for two weeks now? How come there are no conversations going on between the governor / legislator of Mississippi and the mayor of Jackson? Jackson is 82% Black, “Ashton Pittman, senior reporter for the Mississippi Free Press, tweeted.