Even Mississippi lawmakers feel the weight of Jackson floods

Jackson, miss. – In Mississippi’s capital city, intermittent water outages have become a fact of life for residents, as lawmakers are set to arrive for the state’s 2023 legislative session in a new outage on a long-problematic water system.

in cold weather Upending the infrastructure of the Deep South, a pipe burst in Jackson and the city’s water system couldn’t generate enough pressure. Crews have spent several days identifying the leak, but the pressure has not been fully restored and a boiling water notice was issued on Friday.

City leaders say water systems remain vulnerable to weather-related damage, and Jackson-area lawmakers face the prospect of returning home from the Capitol every night without being able to get water at home.

Democratic state Rep. Ronnie Crudup Jr., who has represented South Jackson since 2019, is preparing for the legislature’s upcoming resumption of session on Jan. 3.Then, on December 24th – just three months later Jackson water system failure Leaving many in this city of about 150,000 people without drinking, cooking, bathing and flushing toilets — it’s happening again.

After Crudup’s last drop of tap water was drained down the drain on Christmas Eve, his spirit sank with it.

“I’m usually very optimistic in almost all situations, but the latest water conditions have brought out the best in me,” Crudup wrote in a Dec. 26 social media post. “You all pray for me and my Jackson neighbors. I know if I’m struggling, so is everyone else.”

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said local officials are grappling with “an old, crumbling system that continues to present challenges.” The city’s most recent flooding came after a 2021 winter storm left people without running water for days after pipes froze. The water system again partially collapsed in late August when floodwaters inundated one of the city’s water treatment plants.

Crudup can often be seen in early September, when the late summer sun is baking the parking lot of New Horizons Church, founded by his father, the Rev. Ronnie Crudup Sr., in 1987 Dupp is handing out bottled water. His T-shirt of choice on those long afternoons bears the motto of the task at hand: “Embrace Suffering.”

On September 15, most of the city’s water supply pressure was restored, and the city’s boiling water notice was temporarily lifted, but the problem came again three months later. Crudup began to feel the burden of successive periods in which basic necessities became a scarce resource for his family and constituents.

“As a man, how do I take care of my family in this situation? How do I serve my constituents as a political leader? Speak up,” Crudup told The Associated Press.

After Crudup’s brother saw his Dec. 26 social media post, he picked up the phone with a series of questions.

“Why are you depressed? Why are you feeling this way?” Crudup recalls his brother asking. “By him asking the right questions, I was able to talk myself through it.”

Crudup said he wanted Jackson residents, some of whom were looking for a place to shower over the Christmas holidays, to avoid what he called an “internalized burden.” At New Horizon Church, Crudup worked closely with his father, and together they discussed the stress of seeing neighbors at the mercy of an unreliable water system.

“You have a lot of kids who don’t brush their teeth and all that stuff. Especially dealing with people who don’t have the resources that he or I or somebody else has, it weighs on him,” Crudup Sr. said. “We’re really talking about that.

this $600 million in federal funding Crudup Sr. said the money Jackson received for its water system has the potential to “reinvigorate a lot of economic circumstances” that have prevented necessary structural repairs.

Ted Henifin, the manager appointed by the Justice Department to help fix a long-standing problem with the water system, says he intent on making substantive progress On a yearlong list of projects that will protect the city from future destruction.

Until then, Crudup Jr. said he would encourage Jackson residents to voice their frustrations, as he did.

“People are really helping their neighbors, not just physically, but mentally. We know there are better days to come, it’s just getting through the last bit,” he said.

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Michael Goldberg is a member of the Associated Press/American State House News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service project that puts journalists in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.Follow him on Twitter twitter.com/mikergoldberg.

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