Jackson, Mississippi, is nearing a week with little to no water after flooding in the Pearl River wreaked havoc on the capital city’s already troubled water system.
Jackson’s latest water crisis was declared a federal disaster by President Joe Biden.
“We’ve offered every single thing available in Mississippi. The governor has to act. There’s money to deal with this problem,” said President Biden.
And patience is running thin in a city of 150,000 people — the majority of which are African American.
The city has been under a boil water notice since July after tests showed water quality was cloudy, triggering health concerns.
”We have water issues that have been neglected for at least four decades,” said Shirley Harrington, a longtime Jackson resident.
“It’s like playing Russian roulette: You don’t know if you’re going to wake up with water, don’t know if you got water, don’t know what condition the water is in,” Harrington continued. “There’s so many statements — do not drink, do not use, you can use but don’t drink — so you’re like what do I really do?”
The city is now heavily relying on bottled water.
Seven mass water distribution sites, overseen by 600 National Guard troops, opened across the state Thursday.
Crews continue to work to fix the city’s water system, a system that has been significantly impacted in recent years.
However, there was a setback Friday after a chemical imbalance was detected in the water, along with reduced water pressure.
The setback came the same day FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell toured the plant with state officials.
“This is a really complex situation, but I am confident that together and with the team that I was able to talk with today, that we are going to be able to solve these complex issues,” said Criswell.
From 2019 to August of this year, everything from infrastructure shortfalls to weather have left residents without water or with undrinkable water.
”To everyone in the city — I know that you’re dealing with a profoundly unfair situation. It’s frustrating, it’s wrong, and it needs to be fixed,” said Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves.
Jackson’s mayor says it would cost nearly $200 million to fix the city’s water system.
However, the statewide budget to improve water systems around Mississippi is only $75 million.
“It’s very frustrating to have to fight for some water,” said Victor Martinez, a Jackson resident.
Residents are growing tired of a crisis they say shouldn’t happen in America.
”Jackson has to do something about this," said Jackson resident Kruz Long. "What about the kids? What about the community? What about the people? Somebody gotta do something.”