Mississippi’s capital has long had a water problem. But this summer, the pumps at the main water treatment plant were damaged, and last week the Pearl River was flooded after heavy rains affected the treatment processes, Jackson mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said. Now there is not enough water pressure to serve some 180,000 people in the city.
“It’s been a difficult situation for myself, but also for the residents of the entire city of Jackson,” Mississippi state representative Ronnie Crudup Jr. told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “There are currently more than 180,000 residents suffering from this water outage.”
It’s “more than an inconvenience,” the mayor told CNN’s Pamela Brown. “It’s a disruption of life. How you organize your day around having to go get water,” he said.
Here’s a look at some of the extraordinary effects of living without running, potable water.
No water to flush toilets or brush teeth
People told CNN’s Ryan Young that they’ve collected rainwater to flush their toilets and even brush their teeth. And some said they tried to wash their children in the brown water that came out of their taps.
However, Crudup said that while there was no water on Monday night, there was enough water on Tuesday to flush toilets, but the water is discolored and not safe to drink.
He and his family used bottled water to brush their teeth Monday morning.
No air conditioning in medical centers
Some facilities at Jackson’s University of Mississippi Medical Center are experiencing problems due to the water crisis.
The Jackson Medical Mall’s air conditioning is not working properly “because the water pressure feeding the chillers is too low,” UMMC said in a statement Tuesday. It reached a high of 91 degrees in the city on Tuesday.
A water tanker is expected to arrive on Tuesday afternoon to feed the system so that it is fully operational, the center said.
No water for firefighters
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency on Monday, saying there is not enough water to put out fires or flush toilets.
Water will be brought to the city in tank trucks and organized for fire and life safety, as well as sanitation, Reeves said.
“Replacing our largest city’s water infrastructure with human distribution is a hugely complicated logistical task,” Reeves said.
Hours of waiting for a crate of water
It was 91 degrees in Jackson on Tuesday as cars queued more than a mile to get a box of 24 12-ounce bottles of water at one of the distribution locations. Some waited over 2 and a half hours, only to get to the front of the line and be told the water was all gone.
Jeraldine Watts, 86, sat in a three-mile row, she told CNN.
Born and raised in Jackson, Watts lives at home with her daughter and granddaughter and said they should use bottled or boiled water for everything — brushing teeth, cooking and washing dishes.
“If I had a bigger family, how long would one case last?” Watts asked.
“It’s not okay,” Jackson resident Lynn Jones told CNN. “You know, we have to do something about it because we do pay taxes and we expect the system to work.”
No classes and companies are closed
Jackson Public Schools and Jackson State University hold virtual classes because they have no water.
Numerous businesses were closed Tuesday and many went virtual, but some, including restaurants, are bringing in their own water trucks so they can feed some of the Jackson residents, Crudup said.
Jackson State football program in ‘crisis mode’
Jackson State University’s head football coach said the football program is in “crisis mode.”
“I have to take these kids off campus — the ones who live on campus, those who live in the city of Jackson — to a hotel and shelter them so they can have a proper shower and get their needs met,” Sanders said. .
The coach is trying to find a place where the team can continue to practice, he said.
“Find a place that can accommodate everything we need and want to be, who we want to be, and that’s dominant,” Sanders said.
Fundraising for water
Rosa Barron, the pastor of AME Church in Jackson, raises money to buy water in the hopes of turning her church into a pick-up location.
“A churchgoer told me she had to leave her apartment because her water was cut off,” Barron said. “Another told me she spent hours filling her bathtub so she had enough water to flush the toilet.”
Barron began preparing for a potential water crisis last week when the city warned residents the river could flow, she said.
“The city of Jackson has been without adequate water pressure for almost 31 days. I just felt like a breaking point was coming,” she said.
Last year, several Mississippi AME churches gathered to raise money to buy water for their Jackson church after the city’s pipes burst due to the cold weather, Barron said.
“People in apartments were without water. They couldn’t cook. They couldn’t bathe. They were, like now, without water.”
Barron said she plans to raise money to buy water that will be available for people to pick up at her church. She also plans to provide water to locals who cannot leave their homes, as the church did last year, she said.
CNN’s Amy Simonson, Ryan Young, Caroll Alvarado and Sara Smart contributed to this report.