After weeks of intense flooding, the city’s water infrastructure has collapsed after decades of underfunding and lack of maintenance.
Mississippi. The Magnolia State. Home to the beachfront city of Biloxi, Elvis Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo and many lush green grasslands, it is now the state where its capital city of Jackson is currently facing the menacing and severe obstacle of survival. Throughout the summer, Mississippi was one of many places throughout the U.S. to face the ever-increasing effects of climate change in the form of disastrous floods from heavy rainfall, which caused the Pearl River to overflow. Jackson, home to over a hundred eighty thousand people with its civilian population comprising mostly of Black Americans at around 82%, has no safe drinking water available. Homes and businesses around the city are left with little to no water pressure, hospitals and schools are unable to flush the toilets in their facilities and almost all of Jackson schools are now conducting lessons online.
However, that’s not all. According to journalist Amir Vera who writes for CNN, “Residents of all ages were seen waiting in lines more than a mile long at Hawkins Field Airport for at least two hours Tuesday for just one case of bottled water.” During a press conference on Sept. 1, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves further elaborated on the ongoing situation stating the city could “not produce enough water to fight fires, to reliably flush toilets and to meet other critical needs.” The governor continued on by saying replacing our largest cities infrastructure of running water with human distribution is a massively complicated logistical task.” Jackson mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba also released a statement regarding the ongoing crisis: “We suffer in the southern portion of our city most disproportionately. Some of the most impoverished parts of our city are feeling the brunt of this challenge more consistently and worse off than the rest of our city.”
How did it come to this? Unsurprisingly, this is not the first public crisis the residents of Jackson have endured. Incompetence in Mississippi has varied from issue to issue. Just last year, Jackson had yet another water disruption due to raw sewage being found in the city pipelines which was followed by immediate condemnation from EPA. Mishandling of COVID-19 and enacting tax breaks that cut funding from public services are all prime examples of how little care the state government actually puts into improving the lives of its citizens. What makes this story and situation more infuriating is that the Republican legislature has been completely oblivious to the ever-growing problem. Republicans have been in charge of the state for decades offering no support or any kind of improvement to the lives of ordinary Mississippians. The brutal truth that follows is that the politicians in the Mississippi state legislature knew of the impending problem regarding Jackson’s water infrastructure and they purposefully chose for decades not to do anything about it.
It looks like the luck for Jackson’s water system finally ran out in the late days of July after decade-long incompetence and underfunding of the city’s water system. Now, hundreds of thousands are stranded and forced to stand hours in line for one measly case of bottled water that they may or may not receive. They are forced to use port-a-potties because their restroom facilities don’t work. They are forced to drink potentially heavily contaminated water. The people of Jackson will have to wait around for weeks to see if the government will offer them some sort of relief to get through these difficult times.