Officials “are optimistic that we can see water restored to our residents within this week” in the city of roughly 150,000 residents, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba told CNN Wednesday.
“There is a huge mountain to climb in order to achieve that,” he said. Crews “are working persistently to restore the pressure, to refill the tanks across the city,” Lumumba said.
Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted Wednesday that an emergency rental pump that will pump an additional 4 million gallons of water is being installed at Jackson’s water facility.
“More to be done, but the work is happening at an incredible pace!,” Reeves tweeted.The governor also declared an emergency and activated the National Guard to help distribute bottled water, and said he sent resources for urgent repairs and maintenance at the plant. Some service already has improved, and truckloads of water are coming for distribution to the public, officials said.
President Joe Biden, who signed a major disaster declaration Tuesday triggering assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, spoke to Lumumba on Wednesday to discuss emergency efforts, the White House said.
Lumumba said Wednesday that he spoke extensively with Biden and separately with Harris about the situation in Jackson.
“Both assured me that the eyes of Washington are watching the city of Jackson. They wanted us to know that we should expect the full arm of support from the federal government in every way that they possibly can,” mayor said. “And they assured me their support was going to be demonstrated through long-range and long-term efforts through the EPA.”
Advocates have previously pointed to systemic and environmental racism as among the causes of Jackson’s ongoing water issues and lack of resources to address them. About 82.5% of Jackson’s population identifies as Black or African American, according to census data, while the state’s legislature is majority White.
The water system has suffered from “deferred maintenance over three decades or more,” and the city will need funding help to catch up, Lumumba said earlier this week.
Water crisis upends nearly all aspects of Jackson
While local, state and federal agencies are trying to mitigate the water crisis, it is still upending nearly all aspects of life in the city, where public schools shifted to virtual learning Tuesday.
Cassandra Welchlin, a mother of three, told CNN her kids are out of school and they’ve had to buy water to cook, brush their teeth and for other basic necessities.
Brown water has been running from her taps, said Welchlin, executive director of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable.
“We still would not use that water. We don’t boil it to do anything with it because grit is in the water,” she …….