What it’s like to try to survive without water in Jackson, Mississippi


Most people in the United States take it for granted that when you turn on a tap, you get clean water.

Residents of Jackson, Mississippi are now facing what happens when There is no water for drinking, cooking, washing or even flushing the toilet.

The capital of Mississippi has long had a water problem. But this summer the pumps at the main water treatment facility were damaged, then last week the flooding of the Pearl River after heavy rains affected treatment processes, the mayor of Jackson said. , Chokwe Antar Lumumba. Now there is not enough water pressure to serve some 180,000 people in the city.

“This has been a difficult situation for me, but also for the people of the entire city of Jackson,” Mississippi State Rep. Ronnie Crudup Jr. told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “There are more than 180,000 residents who are suffering right now because of this water shortage.”

It’s “more than an inconvenience,” the mayor told CNN’s Pamela Brown. “It’s life changing. How do you plan your day forcing yourself to fetch water,” he said.

Here’s a look at some of the extraordinary effects of living without running, clean water.

People have told CNN’s Ryan Young that they collect rainwater to flush the toilet and even brush their teeth with. And some said they had tried bathing their children in the brown water that came out of their taps.

Crudup, however, said that although there was no water on Monday evening, Tuesday there was enough water to flush the toilet, but the water is discolored and unsuitable for the toilet. consumption.

He and his family used bottled water on Monday morning to brush their teeth.

Some of the facilities at the University of Mississippi Jackson Medical Center are experiencing issues due to the water crisis.

Jackson Medical Mall’s air conditioning is not functioning properly “because the water pressure supplying its chillers is too low,” the UMMC said in a statement Tuesday. It hit a high of 91 degrees in the city on Tuesday.

A tank truck was due to arrive Tuesday afternoon to supply the system so that it is fully operational, the center said.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency on Monday, saying there was not enough water to fight fires or flush toilets.

Water will be brought into the city in tankers and organized for fire and life safety as well as sanitation, Reeves said.

“Replacing our largest city’s water infrastructure with human distribution is an extremely complicated logistical task,” Reeves said.

It was 91 degrees in Jackson on Tuesday when cars lined up for more than a mile to get a case of 24 12-ounce bottles of water from one of the distribution sites. Some waited over 2.5 hours, only to reach the start of the line and be told the water was gone.

Eighty-six-year-old Jeraldine Watts was in a line two miles long, she told CNN.

Watts, who was born and raised in Jackson, lives at home with her daughter and granddaughter and said they should use bottled or boiled water for everything – brushing their teeth, cooking and bathing the dishes.

“If I had a larger family, how long would a case last?” Watts asked.

“It’s not OK,” Jackson resident Lynn Jones told CNN. “You know, we have to do something about it because we pay taxes and we expect the system to work.”

Jackson Public Schools and Jackson State University are holding virtual classes because they have no water.

Water conditions will be monitored day-to-day and school officials will speak with city officials to determine when in-person learning can resume, the school district said in a statement. statement Monday.

Many businesses were closed on Tuesday and many went virtual, but some, including restaurants, are bringing in their own water trucks so they can feed some Jackson residents, Crudup said.

The Jackson State University head coach said his football program was in “crisis mode.”

“Water means we don’t have air conditioning. I can’t use the toilet,” coach Deion Sanders said on instagram. “We don’t have water, so we don’t have ice, which significantly weighs down the program. So right now we’re operating in crisis mode.

“I have to get these kids off campus — those who live on campus, those who live in the city of Jackson — into a hotel and put them in so they can shower properly and have their needs met,” Sanders said. .

The coach is trying to find a place for the team to continue training, he said.

“Find a place that can accommodate everything we need and want to be, who we want to be, and that’s dominant,” Sanders said.

Rosa Barron, pastor of AME Church in Jackson, raises money to buy water in hopes of turning her church into a collection site.

“A worshiper told me she had to leave her apartment because her water was off,” Barron said. “Another told me she spent hours filling her bathtub to get enough water to flush the toilet.”

Barron began preparing for a possible water crisis last week when the city warned residents the river could crest, she said.

“The city of Jackson has already been without sufficient water pressure for almost 31 days. I just had a feeling there would be a breaking point,” she said.

Last year, several AME churches in Mississippi came together to raise money to buy water for their church in Jackson after the city’s pipes burst from the cold, according to Barron.

“People in the apartments had no water. They didn’t know how to cook. They could not bathe. They were, as they are now, without water.

Barron said she plans to raise money to buy water so people can collect it at her church. She also plans to provide water to residents who cannot leave their homes, as the church did last year, she said.

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