Volunteers distribute water, food to Jackson residents as shortage continues

Parts of Jackson, Mississippi, have gone without running water since mid-February

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Parts of Jackson, Mississippi – an area in which is 80% of the residents are Black – have gone without running water since mid-February. 

According to local reports, while city officials said most of the city has seen its water restored, some areas like pockets in South Jackson on Forest Hill Road and McCluer Road are approaching their third week of low-pressure water shortage issues caused by last month’s crippling winter storms.

“I didn’t feel excited when the water came back. I should’ve already had the water,” admitted Jackson resident Kehinde Gaynor. “You know, I just wouldn’t wish this upon anybody.”

Read More: New Jersey plumber drives to Houston to help homes in need after winter storm

He went on to explain that his family went a whopping 18 days without running water inside their home. At one point, things became so bad they had to fill up empty buckets with raindrops as they fell from the sky and use that residue to help them flush their toilets.

“The pressure is not at 100 percent, but it’s better,” added Nadia Gaynor, Kehinde’s wife. “We’re thankful that it is on. We can at least flush our toilets, we were able to actually take showers yesterday, and today I’ve been able to wash clothes.”

The couple estimates that they’ve spent approximately $4,000 while attempting to maintain a semblance of normalcy during the unsanitary living conditions brought on by the crisis.

“I cook, my wife cooks, so if we can’t cook and prepare our food we have to buy takeout food,” said Gaynor, giving a glimpse into the unexpected costs of living they’ve been burdened with.

“We have to drive miles just to get it, bring it back, and then the costs of the hotels on top of that, it was an enormous bill.”

Jackson, Mississippi Struggles With Lack Of Water 3 Weeks After Winter Storms
JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI – MARCH 07: Volunteers help to distribute water at a water and food distribution drive held by College Hill Baptist Church and the World Central kitchen on March 07, 2021 in Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Sunday morning, Governor Tate Reeves conceded that these current water issues were inevitable and have been in the making for decades.

“It’s the fact that a large number of municipalities in our state and around the country have ignored routine maintenance,” said Governor Reeves. “You do that over many years, you put yourself in a very difficult position.”

The Governor then outlined that while short-term solutions are being put in place to prevent this from happening again, the city would need to invest in infrastructure, including the use of funds from the stimulus relief package that lawmakers in Washington recently passed.

Read More: Mississippi to pay Curtis Flowers $500K for 20-year wrongful imprisonment

But while Reeves continues to give updates, Donna Ladd, founding editor of The Jackson Free Press and the nonprofit Mississippi Free Press, opines in an op-ed for NBC News that, “Jackson, Mississippi has a water crisis because our state legislature has a race problem.”

Ladd then cited how the lawmaker told the media last week, “I do think it’s really important that the City of Jackson start collecting their water bill payments before they start going and asking everyone else to pony up more money.”

“The immediate cause of the broad, systemic breakdown of Jackson’s water system was the same unprecedented cold-weather spell for which Texas received national attention in February,” wrote Ladd.

“But the real causes of Jackson’s problems are deeper and more sinister and cost much more than a neglected city can recoup by collecting on late water bills.”

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