Jackson, Miss. Facing Drinking Water And Flooding Crisis, Calls Go Out For US Government Intervention

Jackson, Miss., is dealing with massive flooding and drinking water shortages. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba urged residents to evacuate as soon as possible. He made an announcement warning locals to “get out now,” ahead of rising river waters.

Jackson is the state’s biggest city. Jackson is 82.47 percent Black or African American and 6.19 percent white.

On July 3, 2017, Lumumba became the 53rd — and youngest — mayor of the City of Jackson, Mississippi. He was 34. He was re-elected mayor on June 8, 2021, winning almost 70 percent of the votes among five candidates. An attorney, husband and father, Lumumba is the son of two veteran community activists—the late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba and Nubia Lumumba.

The city has been experiencing record-setting rain, flooding the city.

“We want them to get out and be prayerful that the worst does not come,” Mayor Lumumba told CNN on Aug 28. “We don’t want to risk the potential that it could happen and they be present within their homes.”

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Since then, as predicted, the rain has come and Mississippi’s Pearl River flooded.

But so, too has a drinking water crisis. While there is water everywhere due to flooding, parts of the state have no running water. Mississippi’s capital is now in its third day, since Aug. 29 without reliable water service; some residents have been standing in long lines for bottled water. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves urged residents not to drink water from the tap, that is if they still have running water.

“Do not drink the water,” Governor Reeves warned, according to WLBT. “In too many cases, it is raw water from the reservoir being pushed through the pipes. Be smart. Protect yourself, protect your family, preserve water, and look out for your fellow man and look out for your neighbors.”

Reeves also declared a state of emergency.

Schools and businesses are closed.

Meanwhile President Joe Biden has reached out to Lumumba “to hear firsthand from the mayor about the urgent situation with access to clean and safe water,” a White House aide told the Hill.

On Aug. 30, Biden approved a federal emergency disaster declaration as Jackson residents remained without running water.

Biden and Lumumba also discussed emergency response efforts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps, the president said

Biden also expressed his “determination to provide federal support to address the immediate crisis and the longer term effort to rebuild Jackson’s water infrastructure,” the aide said. 

Jackson’s drinking water problem got worse when river flooding pushed an already-troubled main treatment plant to failure, meaning the city couldn’t necessarily produce enough water to flush toilets or even fight fires, officials say. Jackson’s water system has been troubled for years and the city already was under a boil-water notice since late JulyCNN reported.

Lumumba says he hopes water service can be restored this week.

Photo: Ty Carter, right, and Benjamin Williams, with Garrett Enterprises, fill up a five-gallon jug for an area resident from a water tanker at Forest Hill High School in Jackson, Miss., Aug. 31, 2022. The tanker, is one of two placed strategically in the city to provide residents non-potable water. The recent flood worsened Jackson’s longstanding water system problems and the state Health Department has had Mississippi’s capital city under a boil-water notice since late July. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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