Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba told CNN on Wednesday that officials are “optimistic that we can see water restored to our residents within this week” of the city of about 150,000 residents.
“In order to achieve this, a huge mountain needs to be climbed,” he said. Crews “have been working hard to get back to pressure and refuel tanks across the city,” Lumumba said.
But the water crisis is still upending nearly every aspect of city life, with public schools turning to virtual learning on Tuesday.
Mother-of-three Cassandra Welchlin told CNN her children were out of school and had to buy water for cooking, brushing their teeth and other basic necessities.
Welch Lynn, executive director of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable, said brown water kept coming out of her tap.
“We’re still not going to use that water. We’re not going to boil it to do anything because there’s grit in the water,” she said. “This is a very bad public safety issue.”
President Joe Biden signed a major disaster declaration on Tuesday, triggering aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and he discussed emergency work with Lumumba on Wednesday, the White House said.
Residents and businesses still face many challenges.
Residents lined up for more than a mile at a water distribution event at Hawkins Field Airport on Tuesday – with some being turned away when the venue ran out of 700 tanks of water in just two hours.
Some stores are in short supply. Jackson resident Geraldine Watts got the last of the water bottle crates at a grocery store on Monday, she told CNN. She and her family have been using bottled or boiled tap water for everything, including cooking and washing dishes.
“I keep saying we’re going to be the next Michigan,” Watts said. “It looks like that’s exactly what we’re going for.”
At Jackson State, “all campus locations have low to no water pressure” and water is being delivered to students, officials said. The university’s head football coach, Deion Sanders, said its football program was in “crisis mode”.
Earlier this week, Lumumba said the water system had been “delayed for maintenance for 3 years or more” and the city needed funding to catch up.
what happened and what officials said was doing
The governor said he was told Friday that “without material improvement, Jackson will almost certainly be unable to produce tap water at some point in the coming weeks or months.”
Lumumba said Monday that due to the flooding, OB Curtis was getting extra water from the reservoir, which changed the way the factory processed the water, causing the factory to produce even lower levels than before, severely reducing water pressure across the city.
State officials said late Tuesday that some improvements had been made at the plant, but more was needed.
On Tuesday, the plant pumped about 30 million gallons of water a day. It is rated to pump about 50 million gallons a day, Jim Craig, director of health protection for the state health department, told reporters Tuesday.
The governor said Tuesday that officials hope to “add a leased pump that will allow us to put at least 4 million gallons into the system,” perhaps installed by Wednesday.
“It’s progress and it’s going to help,” Reeves said.
“I’ve said many times that it’s not a question of if our system will fail, it’s a question of when our system will fail,” the mayor said Tuesday, adding that the city has been “going alone” for the better part of two years. ‘, when it comes to the water crisis.
Lumumba told CNN that the city is working on more water distribution activities.
Starting Thursday, seven large distribution stations and 36 truckloads of water will be available to the public each day, Col. Lt. Mississippi Emergency Management Director Stephen McClane said Tuesday.
McLarney added that companies like Anheuser-Busch, Walmart and Save A Lot, as well as volunteer groups, are also donating water to the city.
Jackson City Councilman Aaron Banks told CNN that the city also provides flushing water.
“The first thing we realized was that people needed to be able to flush, because that became an issue in terms of making sure people had the quality of life they needed,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we need to fix and give Flint, Michigan the same attention we need to give Jackson,” Banks said.
Maise Brown, 20, a junior at Jackson State University, organized the group of about 20 students called the Mississippi Student Water Crisis Advocacy Team. The group launched a social media campaign on Tuesday to raise money and promote the hotline.
As of Wednesday morning, the group had raised about $2,000 and had received about 10 calls for help.
“We had disabled residents calling us … for help,” Brown said. “We also have people who live outside the city calling us and asking us to help their elderly parents.”
Brown said the group plans to knock on the doors of families, hoping to reach people who might not see its social media activity.
Long-standing problems plaguing water systems
“We haven’t had a month in some parts of South Jackson without going from no traffic to low traffic since then, so it’s very frustrating,” Councilman Banks told CNN.
CNN’s Amir Vera, Melissa Alonso, Amanda Musa, Pamela Brown, Carroll Alvarado, Amy Simonson and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.