Even Mississippi lawmaker feels strain of Jackson water woes

Dec 29, 2022, 10:48 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 2:48 pm
FILE - Rep. Ronnie Crudup Jr., D-Jackson, studies an updated grid of the total state support for ag...

FILE - Rep. Ronnie Crudup Jr., D-Jackson, studies an updated grid of the total state support for agencies for fiscal year 2023, in the House chamber at the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson, Miss., on April 4, 2022. Crudup Jr., who has represented south Jackson since 2019, was preparing for the Legislature's upcoming return to session on Jan. 3 when he lost water on Dec. 24, 2022, after frigid weather upended infrastructure across the Deep South. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — In Mississippi’s capital city, where intermittent periods without running water have become a fact of life for residents, a new disruption to the long-troubled water system persists just days before lawmakers are set to arrive for the state’s 2023 legislative session.

Amid frigid weather that upended infrastructure across the Deep South, pipes in Jackson broke and the city’s water distribution system failed to produce adequate pressure. Crews have spent days working to identify leaks, but pressure still hasn’t been fully restored and a boil water notice remained in place Friday.

City leaders said the water system remains vulnerable to weather-related disruptions, and Jackson-area legislators face the prospect of returning home from the Capitol building each evening without access to water in their homes.

Democratic state Rep. Ronnie Crudup Jr., who has represented south Jackson since 2019, was preparing for the Legislature’s upcoming return to session on January 3. Then, on Dec. 24 — just three months after a breakdown in Jackson’s water system left many in the city of about 150,000 without water to drink, cook, bathe and flush toilets — it happened again.

On Christmas Eve, after the last of Crudup’s running water went down the drain, his spirits sunk along with it.

“I’m normally very optimistic in pretty much all situations, but this latest water situation is getting the best of me,” Crudup wrote in a Dec. 26 social media post. “Y’all pray for me and my Jackson neighbors. I know if I’m struggling, others are also.”

Local officials are contending with an “old, crumbling system that continues to offer challenge after challenge,” said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. The city’s latest water woes follow a 2021 winter storm that left people without running water for days after pipes froze. The water system partially collapsed again in late August after flooding overwhelmed one of the city’s water treatment plants.

In early September, Crudup could have often been seen handing out cases of bottled water as the late summer sun baked the parking lot of the New Horizon Church, which his father, Rev. Ronnie Crudup Sr., founded in 1987. His t-shirt of choice during those long afternoons was emblazoned with the motto he applied to the task at hand: “Embrace the grind.”

On September 15, water pressure was restored to most of the city and the citywide boil water notice was temporarily lifted, only for issues to resume three months later. Crudup began to feel the burden of successive periods in which a basic necessity became a scarce resource for his family and his constituents.

“As a man, how am I to take care of my family in the midst of this? As a political leader, how do I serve my constituents? All of my feelings were internalized and I didn’t have any method of getting all that out,” Crudup told The Associated Press.

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

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

Crudup said he wants Jackson’s residents, some of whom spent the Christmas holiday looking for a place to shower, to avoid what he called “internalizing the burden.” At New Horizon Church, Crudup works closely with his father, and together they’ve talked through the strain of seeing their neighbors at the mercy of an unreliable water system.

“You’ve got a lot of children who aren’t brushing their teeth and all these other things. Particularly dealing with a lot of the least of these who don’t have the kind of resources he or I, or other people have, it weighs on him,” Crudup Sr. said. “And we do talk about that.”

The $600 million in federal money that Jackson is set to receive for its water system has the potential to “revitalize a whole lot of the economic circumstances,” that have hindered necessary structural repairs, Crudup Sr. said.

Ted Henifin, the manager appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice to help fix the long-troubled water system, said he intends to make substantial progress over a one-year period on a list of projects that will protect the city from future disruptions.

As the wait for a reliable system continues, Crudup Jr. said he will encourage Jackson residents to talk through their frustrations with one another.

“People are really stepping in to help their neighbors, not only physically but mentally,” he said. “We know there will be better days ahead, it’s just about making it through this last point.”

___

Michael Goldberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mikergoldberg.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

substation...
Associated Press

Puyallup man accused in substation vandalism is released from custody

A federal judge issued the order for Matthew Greenwood, 32, after renewed efforts by his attorney to get Greenwood into a drug-treatment facility.
1 day ago
Associated Press

American Express launches products for small businesses

NEW YORK (AP) — American Express is launching a suite of financial service products for small businesses as it aims build up its presence in the small business sector. The services, called Business Blueprint, stem from the credit card giant’s acquisition of fintech Kabbage in 2020. American Express had been offering small business lines of […]
1 day ago
FILE - The sun dial near the Legislative Building is shown under cloudy skies, March 10, 2022, at t...
Associated Press

Democrats in Washington state choose Conrad as new leader

The Washington State Democratic Party has chosen Shasti Conrad, the former leader of King County Democrats, as its new chair.
1 day ago
Birds are seen resting on top of tons of waste floating on Lim river near Priboj, Serbia, Monday, J...
Associated Press

Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia do little to solve waste problem

PRIBOJ, Serbia (AP) — In southwest Serbia, construction machines are being repurposed to clear tons of waste clogging the Potpec lake. Year after year during the winter months, the lake near the southwest Serbian town of Priboj fills with tons of garbage such as plastic bottles, rusty barrels, dead animals and even furniture or home […]
1 day ago
FILE - A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021 in New York. Pfizer reports their e...
Associated Press

Drugmaker Pfizer starts low with 2023 earnings forecast

Pfizer surprised Wall Street with a prediction for a bigger-than-expected sales drop this year for two key products: its COVID-19 vaccine and treatment. The drugmaker also released an earnings forecast that is below analyst expectations, sending shares lower before the opening bell Tuesday. Pfizer expects sales of both the vaccine Comirnaty and the treatment Paxlovid […]
1 day ago
FILE - An exit sign is shown at a McDonald's restaurant in Pittsburgh on Saturday, April 23, 2022. ...
Associated Press

Adult Happy Meals, McRib, feed McDonald’s sales in Q4

Adult Happy Meals and other limited-time promotions boosted traffic at McDonald’s restaurants during the fourth quarter despite higher prices. Global same-store sales __ or sales at stores open at least a year __ rose 12.6% in the October-December period, the Chicago company said Tuesday. That beat Wall Street expectations for an 8.8% increase, according to […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Even Mississippi lawmaker feels strain of Jackson water woes