Public schools in Jackson, Mississippi, were forced to go virtual on Thursday, with much of the state capital under.
Businesses in the city are also closing amid the water problems. Barrelhouse, a restaurant, has been serving bottled water, but it’s closing for good this weekend after one water crisis too many.
“We no longer have the capital to weather these storms,” said manager David Moncrief. “It’s very hard to have to close your restaurant basically through no fault of your own.”
A southern deep freeze burst pipes across the city over Christmas weekend, straining Jackson’s main water plant. Many had no water pressure at all.
The city’s water system had alreadyin late August.
On Thursday, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba announced $800 million in government funding to rebuild it — less than half of what some estimates call for.
“We did not get here overnight,” he said. “Our full recovery will take many years.”
Decades of neglect, underfunding, incompetence and indifference have contributed to the issue. Each time, the water line breaks hit poor people the hardest, in a city where more than 80% of residents are Black.
On Jackson’s south side — the city’s poorest area — pastor Greg Divinity uses his water truck to get water to hundreds of families.
“The mayor is Black. The governor is White,” Divinity said. “The mayor is a Democrat. The governor is a Republican. We got some divides here.”
“It feeds on itself,” he said. “So that kind of keeps the communication from not happening.”